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Mystery solved: Wal-Mart coming to Hillsboro

Staff writer

After months of speculation, Wal-Mart officially announced it would be opening a Neighborhood Market in Hillsboro, set to open in spring 2015.

The store will feature a grocery, pharmacy, a fueling station, and “select household items,” according to the Wal-Mart press release.

The store will also give access to more than one million items via an online service called “Site to Store,” which allows residents to make online purchases that are then delivered to the 12,000 sq. ft. location at 605 Orchard Drive.

“We feel that this is recognition of the robust business climate that our city offers,” Hillsboro Mayor Delores Dalke said.

For months, Dalke had kept the name of the retailer under wraps. But Dale Franz, owner of Dale’s Supermarket, said local business owners had a pretty good idea it would be Wal-Mart.

“This is our business and livelihood,” he said. “When we heard they wanted to buy and that the store would be up by the end of the year, we knew there was only one company that could do that.”

Franz is one of several local business owners that have bristled at the idea of what is seen as unwanted competition.

“They say it will be good for competition, and on a level playing field, that’s fine, but Wal-Mart is not a level playing field,” he said. “In the short term, consumers will think it’s beneficial for them. It’ll add 20 to 30 low-paying jobs, but it will probably cost 40 to 60 better-paying jobs.

“It’s not a business that increases employment. It’s just going to cannibalize other businesses.”

Hillsboro economic development director Clint Seibel said that while Hillsboro did not recruit Wal-Mart, it’s up to Hillsboro business owners to adapt and compete.

“This town has worked toward attracting and developing business, and all of a sudden we attract a pretty big fish, then we say, ‘Whoops, wait a minute, maybe this is not the right one,’” Seibel said.

Seibel said about 25 percent of Hillsboro businesses have outside ownership, making Wal-Mart not especially rare in that respect. However, he said Wal-Mart has a “certain reputation that precedes them” that makes them different from other nonlocal businesses.

Seibel said some business owners are “definitely scared” for the future of their businesses, but others are excited because it will bring increased traffic to town.

Franz thinks Wal-Mart will not attract more people to Hillsboro because of what it will do to the overall economy.

“People driving around will see the empty storefronts,” he said. “There are so many houses already for sale.”

Franz said he thinks Wal-Mart will hurt Marion’s local business economy as well.

“We’ll just have to wait and see what happens,” he said. “Just do the best we can.”

Last modified Sept. 20, 2014

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