Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Walmart closed 154 stores, mainly rural; how one poor Appalachian county is dealing with the loss

Washington Post map: Stores that closed
in low-income, low-density areas
What happens to a rural community when its Walmart closes? Earlier this year the nations largest grocer and retailer, with more than 4,000 locations, announced it was closing 154 U.S. stores. Of those stores 96 are in low-income, low-density and predominately rural areas, mostly in the Southeast.

McDowell County, West Virginia, which is one of the nation's poorest counties and has one of the highest death rates from prescription-pill overdoses, saw its Walmart close, adding to the woes in a once thriving coal community.

McDowell County, West Virginia
The result was that 140 people were laid off and the county lost its main grocery store, Jessica Lilly and Roxy Todd report for West Virginia Public Broadcasting. The Walmart closing also affected the local food pantry, which relied on donations from the store to help feed 11,000 people.

Local residents have responded to the closing by creating a pair of farmers' markets, Lilly and Todd write. The problem is that "growing and selling local foods in the coalfields can be tough. For one thing, there aren’t a lot of customers willing to make the trek out to the farmer’s market."

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