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Published 12:00 am Friday, March 11, 2016

Story by Rupert Howell December 19. 2014. There were a lot of happy people in Sardis early Wednesday morning at the grand opening of the Sardis Walmart Neighborhood Market. But the happiest people included manager Patrick Hooks who was brought to tears while thanking his wife for putting up with him in the final weeks prior to the opening; construction project superintendent B.J. Chambers whose responsibility was to erect the facility from scratch on a hilly slope of ground beginning in l

Sardis Walmart Express one of six Mississippi locations slated to close

By Rupert Howell
Area residents were shocked to hear Friday that the Sardis Walmart Express would be one of six Mississippi locations slated to close as part of 269 Walmart stores closing globally with the last day scheduled for January 28.

The store opened amid cheers December 17, 2014 employing approximately 40 workers. Those cheers came from a population who had been without a grocery store in their town long enough to appreciate the convenience of buying groceries without having to drive to Batesville or Senatobia.

“Y’all have got me off the hook,” first-term Sardis  Mayor Billy Russell told a parking lot full of well-wishers, store employees and customers on the cold December morning during grand opening ceremonies.

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Russell made a campaign promise to try to help locate a grocery store in town if elected and the new Walmart opened not only helping to fulfill his promise, but also bringing jobs and additional sales tax revenue.

“It’s been a rough day for me, I’ll just tell you,” Russell said Friday afternoon after getting the news earlier in the day from a Walmart regional executive.

Russell said he and the local manager had just recently had a conversation on how well the Sardis store was doing.

“It’s nothing we did. We supported the store. It was just a corporate decision to close all the small stores,” Russell explained

“It’s disheartening to me because I have got to start all over again (looking for a new store),” Russell added.
He said if anything good come come from the situation is that a new 12,000 square foot building is available in Sardis that Walmart will want to sell or lease.

That town’s revenue from sales tax collected in December increased between 20 and 25 percent from the previous two years going form $21,996 to $27,315 from December 2013 to December 2015 and gave city elected officials a little ‘breathing’ room during their most recent budget year.

A Walmart news release said approximately 10,000 U.S. associates will be impacted by the closings and, “the hope is that these associates will be placed in nearby locations. Where that isn’t possible, the company will provide 60 days of pay and, if eligible, severance, as well as resume and interview skills training.”

The Sardis store closing is one  of 154  locations being closed in the U.S. including the 102 smallest format Walmart Express Stores.

The company’s website said Walmart will instead focus on  strengthening Supercenters, optimizing Neighborhood Markets, growing the e-commerce business and expanding Pickup services for customers.
Also covered in the closures are 23 Neighborhood Markets, 12 Supercenters, seven stores in Puerto Rico, six discount centers and four Sam’s Clubs.