Adam Armour / Itawamba County Times
Walmart is rumored to be eying Mantachie to open one of its 300 or so pilot small-form Walmart Express stores.
Although still unofficial, town officials say the town has been talking with engineers about constructing a convenience store on property located off Highway 371, across from Delmar’s. The landowner reportedly sold the land to Walmart recently.
The Times was unable to reach the landowner in order to verify the sale, and as of press time, nothing on the sale had been submitted through the Itawamba County Tax Assessor’s office. But Mantachie Mayor Jeff Butler is confident the deal will go through.
“It hasn’t been announced, but [Walmart is] who bought the property,” the mayor said.
Still in their early pilot stages, Walmart Express stores are intended to breech the market in small towns that aren’t big enough to support a full-size Walmart, and big cities where it’s impractical to build a supercenter. Mantachie, obviously, falls into the former category.
The stores are meant to target the same customer base as stores like Dollar General and Freds, both of which have Mantachie locations. According to Butler, Mantachie’s Dollar General is one of its parent company’s biggest earners, making Mantachie a prime location for competition from Walmart, leading credence to the reports.
If the rumors prove true, the Walmart Express store will be approximately 12,000 square feet … roughly a third of the size of a Walmart Supercenter store. Traditionally, Walmart Express stores feature a small selection of groceries, a pharmacy and fuel pumps.
“It will essentially be a small version of a Walmart store,” Butler said.
The company currently has 20 or so Walmart Express stores operating nationwide, a number it plans to expand by more than 250 by the end of 2014 based on the stores’ success in test markets.
The company is expected to submit site plans to the Mantachie Board of Aldermen in early April. Currently, there is no completion date in place.
If everything goes through, Butler expects the new store to prove to be a big boon for the small town, which operates on sales tax revenue alone. If a new store can draw more business from Mantachie’s surrounding communities, it will help the town thrive.
“It will be a boost to the town, absolutely,” the mayor said. “Any time you have a business willing to invest money in Mantachie, that’s good news for us. It makes us extremely proud.”