Originally created 03/18/03

Wal-Mart's Supercenter set to open



The owners and managers of businesses near the new North Augusta Wal-Mart Supercenter, scheduled to open Wednesday, are standing with their feet apart and their arms crossed waiting.

They don't know whether opening the doors of Sam Walton's dream child will give them a cool breeze blowing some business their way or a Category 5 hurricane slamming everything in its path.

"We're playing a waiting game right now," said Joan Van Vactor, the manager of the Kmartacross the street from the new $25 million Wal-Mart Supercenter on Knox Avenue.

Ms. Van Vactor said that the success of the North Augusta Kmart and all businesses near the large newcomer depends on whether customers spend all their money at the new business or spread it around.

The new Wal-Mart will anchor The Shoppes at North Augusta, a 14-store complex that will generate about $4.2 million in annual sales tax revenue and about 700 jobs after the commercial building has a full load of tenants, said Arthur Kepes, the vice president of WRS Inc., the company that owns the development.

The open question is whether the economic activity will be a net addition to the North Augusta economy or whether it will cancel out jobs and sales tax revenue from other stores. North Augusta officials want it all - the Wal-Mart and the mom-and-pop.

"The small business has always been the heartbeat of North Augusta," said Charles Martin, the city administrator. "Wal-Mart is a good citizen, and we're glad to have them, but we also like the small shops that are so important to us over here."

STORE FACTS

The new Wal-Mart Supercenter:

  • Will employ 500 - 200 from the old store and 300 new workers.
  • At 205,000 square feet, will be larger than Aiken's Supercenter at 199,000 square feet.
  • Has 31 cash registers, including one for a cashier using a wheelchair.
  • Includes hair salon, portrait studio, an eight-bay automotive center and 500 parking spots for customers.
  • Will hold a ribbon cutting at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday.
  • Reach Sara Bancroft at (803) 279-6895 or sara.bancroft@augustachronicle.com.