The Walmart Express experiment was a teeny proportion of the more than 5,000 stores that the retailer claims across the United States: fewer than 150 tiny Walmarts in small towns across the country. Walmart pulling the plug on its experiment has a very real and very terrible effect on the people who live in those small towns. In some places, it leaves them without any local grocery stores or pharmacies.
Bloomberg News visited some of these communities , and found that Walmart’s planned departure is leaving the towns where it built Walmart Express mini-stores even worse off. Take the town of Merkel, Kansas: with no indication that the new Walmart was close to leaving, the town’s grocery store closed only two months ago. There’s a happy ending for them, sort of: the grocery store has announced plans to reopen.
Other communities aren’t so lucky. While small stores might come along at some point to pick up that business, the small grocery stores and pharmacies that tried to compete with Walmart weren’t able to survive. “[Walmart] ruined our lives,” the manager of the local grocery store in Oriental, NC (and the owner’s daughter) told Bloomberg. “They came in here with their experiment and ruined us.”