Sales booming for smaller stores after Walmart closing

RAYMONDVILLE — For some local businesses, Walmart’s closing has sales booming.

And at City Hall, officials are counting on these local businesses to help offset sales tax revenue losses stemming from the retail giant’s closing.

For Raymondville’s dollar stores, business has doubled since Walmart closed its doors Jan. 29.

“It’s been good for us here,” Jaime Hernandez, manager at Family Dollar, said yesterday. “Sales have at least doubled. There has been a big increase.”

Now, the store is building up its inventory to keep up with demand, Hernandez said.

Hernandez said Walmart’s closing led residents to shop around.

Many residents turned to dollar stores like Family Dollar and Dollar General to buy items like household products they used to find at Walmart.

“People started scouting to see what’s in town that last week that Walmart was open,” Hernandez said. “When Walmart closed, we got hit hard.”

At Alamo Lumber, sales are up about 50 percent, salesman Chevy Gutierrez said.

“We really appreciate what Walmart did,” Gutierrez said with a chuckle.

Gutierrez said the store used to see about 250 customers walk through its doors every day.

But since Walmart closed, as many as 400 customers a day are shopping there, Gutierrez said.

Gutierrez said customers are buying hardware, tools, paint, lighting and electrical supplies.

“It’s everything,” he said.

The local business boon will help offset Walmart’s sales tax revenue losses in the city whose annual sales tax collection grew to $1.4 million.

“The sales tax loss with Walmart hopefully will be made up by other stores in our city,” City Manager Eleazar Garcia said.

Residents are still spending their tax dollars in town, said Catalina Ozuna, executive director of the Raymondville Economic Development Corporation.

“I don’t see people leaving and buying somewhere else,” Ozuna said. “They’re still buying here. We have other stores here that carry the items Walmart carried.”

On Jan. 29, Walmart closed the city’s Supercenter, laying off 149 employees.

Along with Raymondville’s store, Walmart closed 268 of its least profitable stores in the United States and Latin America, including a Brownsville store on Padre Island Highway.

News of the Raymondville store’s closing came 10 months after the Willacy County Correctional Center shut down, laying off 400 employees.

The prison’s closure plunged Willacy County into a financial crisis, slashing a third of the county’s $8.1 million general fund budget. As county commissioners tried to offset a monthly $220,000 shortfall, budget cuts eliminated about 25 jobs, forcing 16 layoffs.

In Raymondville, the 3,000-bed prison’s closure cut the city’s water sales by about $600,000.

Now, officials are waiting for the state Comptroller’s Office to release the city’s February sales tax collection next month.