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Walmart doesn't intimidate store owners

By Jim Wallace - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –   Economic developers have been trying for years to bring a Walmart to east Albany.

Construction is finally scheduled to start next month. Many critics say Walmart kills small locally-owned businesses, some East Albany business owners welcome the giant retailer to their neighborhood.

Fussell Hughes has personally waited on customers at his Old Johnson Road hardware store for 25 years. And he is happy Walmart is building just down the road from his store. 54:20

"I'm proud Walmart is coming," Hughes said. "Create a lot more traffic. And it will help East Albany I think."

Hughes knows a new Walmart will draw many more shoppers to East Albany from outlying towns, and pump more money and jobs into East Albany.

He has thrived being the little guy competing with Home Depot and Lowe's, and is confident customers will still come to him even after going to Walmart.  "You got to have a niche, Jim. You got to have things that they don't carry."

Dr. Rooter owner James Epler is so confident that Walmart will boost East Albany's economy, he is planning to move both his home and his business there. "I think people want to open businesses near Walmart. Because the motto is this: Everyone wants to do business where people are doing business. And I think things will come to the east side because of that."

Hughes agrees that Walmart will bring jobs and money to East Albany, and that his service and expertise will keep customers coming to his store even with the world's largest retailer just down the street.

Economic development officials say the East Albany Walmart should create about 300 jobs.

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