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When Lauren Kent was about 13 years old, she would take the No. 32 bus from her house in Wheat Ridge to the nearby Walmart. She would go to the store with some cash and a list of items her mother needed.
“This is where I learned to do the household shopping and budgeting,” Kent, 35, said.
On July 7, two Jefferson County Walmart locations will close — the Wheat Ridge store, 3600 Youngfield St. in the Applewood Village Shopping Center, and the Arvada Walmart Neighborhood Market, 14605 W. 64th Ave.
The closures are a result of consolidation efforts as the multibillion dollar corporation prepares for the Aug. 9 opening of its new Walmart Supercenter at West 58th Avenue and Independence Street in Arvada. The Wheat Ridge store is about five miles from where the new supercenter will be located and the Arvada Neighborhood Market is about four miles away.
Clark Walker, the deputy director of the Arvada Urban Renewal Authority, expects the new Walmart Supercenter will have a positive impact on retail and commercial activity in the entire corridor of where it will be opening, he said.
One example is that it helped spur the development of new retail and commercial space at the Shops at Ralston Creek, which is across the street from where the supercenter will be located, he said.
“This area of the community is well loved,” he said, “and a significant level of reinvestment is overdue.”
Losing a large source of income is both a disappointment and a concern for any city, said Wheat Ridge Mayor Joyce Jay.
But while there’s the concern for the city’s treasury, Jay said, the closure may also affect the shopping experience in Wheat Ridge. Walmart can provide consumers with a shopping destination that carries a large selection of different products and items to fill the needs of most shoppers, Jay said. Losing this attraction could hurt the accessibility shoppers have to a convenient store such as Walmart, she said.
According to the City of Wheat Ridge’s financial reports, the 2016 sales tax revenues for the Applewood Center are $4,486,948. This amount includes Walmart, and the other anchor tenants of King Soopers, PetSmart, Wells Fargo, Applejack Liquors, Chili’s, Famous Footwear and Starbucks, among other retailers.
It’s important that people don’t panic over the loss of sales tax revenue from Walmart closing, said Wheat Ridge treasurer Jerry DiTullio.
“Change brings opportunity,” he said.
The Regency Group — the property’s owners — will be proactively looking for new tenants, and DiTullio believes it won’t take long for a business to move in.
Employees of the Wheat Ridge and Arvada Neighborhood Market locations were notified of the closures on June 5. The Wheat Ridge location employs 125 people, and the Neighborhood Market has 60, Walmart spokesperson Anne Hatfield said. All will have the option to transfer to the new Arvada Walmart Supercenter, which will be hiring up to 280 people.
Walmart is in the midst of its third year of multimillion dollar remodels at a number of its stores statewide, Hatfield said. Part of upgrading its service is consolidating older, smaller stores to open Walmart Supercenters that can provide a full-service shopping destination to meet the needs of all consumers, she said.
“Today, convenience is as important as saving money,” Hatfield said. “What we’re doing is consolidating these two stores. This will allow us to better serve the customers of today.”
The new supercenter will be 140,000 square feet. It will feature a drive-thru pharmacy and an expanded grocery area with wider aisles and improved signage for easier navigation through the store, Hatfield said.
The Arvada Neighborhood Market’s pharmacy customers will be able to transfer their prescriptions to the new Arvada Walmart Supercenter, Hatfield said. In the interim, Walmart plans to keep only the pharmacy open at the neighborhood market to ensure an easy transfer to the supercenter location.
But for some shoppers, the location of the Wheat Ridge Walmart is why they shop there.
Lisa Brown said she will most likely have to take her business elsewhere.
“I live in Golden, but this is my neighborhood Walmart,” she said. “I’m a native to this area. I’ve been shopping here since it’s been open.”
The Wheat Ridge store is the closest Walmart to Brown’s residence in the south Golden area, she said. And because there is also a King Soopers in the Applewood Village Shopping Center, the area provides a one-stop shopping destination to take care of all of her errands.
“I’m really sad it’s closing,” Brown said. “I think there will be a lot of people upset.”
Jerry and Rose Smith have lived in Wheat Ridge for more than 30 years, and they remember when the Wheat Ridge store opened in 1988. Although the location of the new supercenter will be convenient enough for them to be able to do their shopping there, the Smiths are mainly concerned it will be too congested for them to quickly stop in.
“I’d like to see it (Walmart) stay small,” Jerry Smith said, adding that the area in Arvada is already quite busy, and a big supercenter will only attract more traffic and more people to a single shopping destination.
Kent said she plans to continue to shop at the Wheat Ridge Walmart until it closes. Then she’ll likely go to the Lakeside Walmart, near 44th Avenue and Harlan Street.
“I’m very surprised this one is closing,” she said of the Wheat Ridge Walmart.
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