Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Cautious Optimism as New Walmart Opening Nears ; East Topeka Business Owners Hope for More Traffic at Their Stores

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Cautious Optimism as New Walmart Opening Nears ; East Topeka Business Owners Hope for More Traffic at Their Stores

Article excerpt

Most business owners near the new East Topeka Walmart are cautiously optimistic about its effect on their businesses when it opens in two weeks. The new Walmart will open at 7 a.m. Oct. 8 at 2630 S.E. California. The 155,000-square-foot supercenter has groceries and general merchandise.

Studies have found mixed impacts on surrounding businesses when a supercenter opens. A study in Mississippi found grocery stores and miscellaneous retail stores typically lost sales when a supercenter opened nearby, while furniture stores, which have limited overlap with Walmart, gained sales. Home improvement stores also appeared to benefit, with a pattern of stores like Home Depot and Lowe's locating near a Walmart to capture some of the additional traffic. The Mississippi study didn't look at larger metropolitan areas like Topeka that already have multiple supercenters, however, so it isn't clear whether the same dynamic would apply here.

Ash Mohammad, owner of Cali Smoke Stop & Gas, 2701 S.E. California, said the neighborhood has lost some stores and restaurants since he set up shop there in 2000, and he hopes the Walmart is a sign that the trend is starting to reverse. The new store could bring in people who are traveling on Interstate 70 or who drive from rural areas east of Topeka to do their shopping at one of the other Walmarts, he said.

"Hopefully it'll bring more people and more business," he said.

Mohammad said he hopes that some of the people going to Walmart will stop at his store to fuel up, but the more important effect may be that some people in the surrouding neighborhood are getting jobs. He estimated about 20 customers who live nearby have mentioned that they got jobs with the new store.

"I'm happy because so many neighbors got jobs," he said. "That's wonderful."

Shirley Miller, owner of Mama Shirley Family Restaurant, 2511 S.E. California, said she thinks the new Walmart will encourage people to shop in their own neighborhood instead of going to the supercenter at 1301 S. …

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