Walmart Supercenter reopening ‘profits the Whitewater community’

With the reopening of the Walmart Supercenter, community members now have more options on where to shop for groceries, which many hope will encourage the city’s citizens to spend money in Whitewater rather than going elsewhere.

Photo by Andrew Smith

Walmart Store Manager Joey Marx said the reopening of the store will profit the Whitewater community.

“[The reopening into a Supercenter] creates a competitive advantage for those in the community,” Marx said. “It’s beneficial to everyone to have competition so they can get the lowest price they can while shopping.”

The expansion of Walmart has added 85 jobs in Whitewater, Marx said. He said more than half of those jobs are full-time, and most of the part-time jobs were filled by students.

Whitewater City Manager Kevin Brunner said he hopes the expansion will help retain the nearly $69 million of “leakage” the city loses annually by shoppers going out of town to shop.

“I hope the expansion [of Walmart] will spill over into the rest of the city,” Brunner said. “Whitewater loses a tremendous amount of money from its residents going to Janesville, Madison and Milwaukee to shop.”

Plans for the renovation began earlier this year and took about six months to complete. Nearly 28,000 square-feet were added onto the existing 70,655 square-foot store located at 1362 W. Main St. The store originally opened for business in April 1989.

The reopening of the Supercenter occurred at 7:30 a.m. Nov. 16.

The opening ceremonies included the National Anthem and was attended by the VFW, the City of Whitewater Police and Fire Departments, city officials and community members, Marx said. The ceremony hosted the UW-Madison Madhatters, mascots from different food vendors, a 105.9 The Hog radio booth and two of the Milwaukee Brewers Klements racing sausage mascots.

Many students are excited about the addition of a grocery department to the Walmart. UW-Whitewater senior Tony Matoska said he thinks the Supercenter will benefit students, but hurt businesses.

“I think the new Walmart is good for students,” Matoska said. “It gives us a different place to buy groceries at a cheaper price. I also think that the store may end up putting some smaller businesses in the city out of business.”

Daniel’s Sentry Store Manager Dennis Riley said Sentry is able to offer more of a selection of each kind of product because it is strictly a grocery store.

Small business owners feel there is both good and bad to the Supercenter. Eric Lange, owner of M.E. and My Pets located in downtown Whitewater, said the Walmart will raise the amount of money spent within the city because people who choose to shop at Walmart stores won’t go to Janesville to shop at the Walmart there.

“Personally, I’d like to see more stores in Whitewater, whether it be big-box stores or ma-and-pa shops,” Lange said. “I think people like to stay in their community to shop. Even though people may not agree with the mass market philosophy of [stores like] Walmart, I believe having more places to shop in town is a benefit for everyone.”

Lange said the way small businesses compete against stores like Walmart is by doing something different.

Brunner said Walmart was very accommodating with the city’s requests of LED lights in the parking lot and better landscaping.