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The Walmart Express located on Ninth Street is closing Oct. 7.

Alessandro Comai/Staff Photographer

Walmart Express to close on Friday

The Wal comes down: The convenience store on Ninth Street opened in January 2014.

By Katie Rosso | Oct. 5, 2016

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Junior Ryan Idel stood in the third aisle of Walmart Express, holding a box of Nutty Bars and a pepperoni pizza. Idel typically shops at this Walmart right off of Ninth Street for snacks, drinks and the “typical necessities.” Walmart Express features the quintessential college items: Mizzou gear, calculators, toilet paper, memory cards and frozen foods, but on Friday, the store will close.

Walmart announced in a statement released Monday that the superstore chain made the decision not to renew Walmart Express’ lease “after a rigorous review and consideration of various factors.” Walmart Express originally opened in January 2014.

The news came after Walmart announced in January that it would no longer pilot the Express stores, a concept Walmart has been working on since 2011. The original concept of the stores was meant to combat the success of Dollar Tree, but Walmart had a financial downturn at the end of 2015, which turned out to be its weakest year for sales growth since 2009.

Walmart’s Director of Communications Delia Garcia said the merchandise at the store will be transferred to other Walmart Superstores in town.

Idel will miss the benefits of the proximity of the store. He lives at Brookside Downtown on Tenth Street, a three-minute walk from Walmart Express.

“It sucks because it’s just so convenient,” Idel said. “But not anymore because it’s closing. It’s sad.”

To get groceries, he said he would have to get his car 15 minutes away, because he doesn’t have a parking pass for downtown. To bring his groceries up to his apartment, he’d have to pay for a meter. Idel has a car, but other students don’t have that option.

Doctoral student Andrea Saltos did not know the store was closing, and she said she buys most of her groceries at the Walmart Express because she lives right above in the Lofts at 308 Ninth. She typically buys oats, cereal, toilet paper and water, but now she will have to have her groceries delivered.

“I just come here when I need something really quick like paper towels or cereal or milk,” Saltos said. “I don’t have a car, and that’s the reason why this is super convenient. I’m guessing now I’ll just order online.”

The store has 11 associates, and the company said that they will likely be transferred to other Walmart locations or the Sam’s Club in town. The pharmacy is also working with customers to transfer its prescriptions to other stores in town.

Signage at the store suggests that patrons just visit the three Walmart Supercenters or Sam’s Club.

Assistant economics professor Eric Parsons said he doesn’t expect the space to stay vacant for very long.

“The fact that they’re leaving, though, suggests that there’s not that big of a market for that as might have been initially thought,” Parsons said. “There definitely will be some students who don’t have vehicles who are going to have to travel further, get it delivered, pay more. I think probably the next closest is places like maybe Lucky’s Market — at least close to downtown as far as getting more groceries.”

There are also two grocery-based Mizzou Market locations.

“If there is an entrepreneur out there who sees the opportunity to make profits by selling grocery items there, you might expect something like that to go in,” Parsons said. “If something doesn’t fill that space with a similar type of store, I would certainly expect things like Mizzou Market or Lucky’s Market to probably pick up some of that extra. And I would also expect students to do things like carpool more with people who have friends who are going out to the larger Walmarts or Hy-Vee.”

Edited by George Roberson | groberson@themaneater.com

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