Here’s what it looks like when a Walmart closes down
At first glance, it looks like a normal Walmart. The vision center is still stocked, staffers are helping visitors and the pharmacy is filling prescriptions.
The front shelves are stuffed with summer paraphernalia and quick-grab snacks.
But, go a little further back and it becomes more apparent that something’s different.
The Walmart Supercenter near Highland High School is closing after serving the area since 1985. The store on San Mateo near Central will be closing March 10 after a review process revealed it was not performing as well as the company hoped, a Walmart spokeswoman has said.
The city is considering purchasing the location, but nothing is set in stone yet.
In the meantime, the Walmart continues prepping for closing day.
So, here’s what it looks like when a Walmart closes.
On Wednesday afternoon, the produce area was emptied out, the coolers keeping nothing but vacant shelves cold.
The bakery was completely gone, leaving a broad open space that usually would be filled with racks of bread, cakes and cookies.
Only three packs of discounted salmon remained in the meats section.
Oddly enough, the cheese section was still relatively full, despite the eerie lack of products in the dark, empty dairy and eggs aisles.
Going along the back of the store, most sections looked fully stocked and tidy, a place for everything and everything in its place.
The display TVs were gone, but most of the shelves in the section were stocked with electronics.
The auto section was almost completely normal except for an empty motor oil shelf.
The indoor garden section was in full bloom, offering a plethora of seeds, soil, supplies and outdoor furniture.
The outdoor area was, however, closed and completely empty.
It wasn’t as crowded as one would expect on a Wednesday afternoon.
The parking lot was mostly empty and sidewalks hosted only a scattered few.
“When this place was open, that giant parking lot out there was always full,” said shopper Bob, pausing, basket in hand, between a fully stocked shelf and an entirely empty freezer.
He said he’d have to start shopping somewhere else, mentioning he’d probably start going to another location about eight blocks from his house.
Fellow shopper Lorena said she usually shops at the Walmart on Eubank, but came over to the San Mateo location Wednesday because she heard things would be on sale. They weren’t.
“It (the closure) will affect people because it’s the closest option they have for food that is affordable,” said Lorena, speaking in Spanish. “And I can imagine it will be difficult for the people who live close by.”
Arsenio De Aguero, sitting and smoking at the nearby bus stop, said he has lived in the area for almost five years and Walmart is the main place he shops.
“I want to go and shop at Walmart because … I get the stuff I want and I know where to go,” said De Aguero. “But I also like Smith’s, I also like Whole Foods … but I don’t want to take out a mortgage, either.”
The next closest Walmart is a Neighborhood Market north of Interstate 40.
It’s only 2½ miles away and would take only 8 minutes by car.
But, for cyclists, it would take almost 20 minutes and, for pedestrians, it would be closer to 50 minutes as the walking route has to go around the I-40 on- and off-ramps.
There are other closer stores, but many don’t have Walmart’s variety or pricing.
Gary Pacheco, who spoke while balancing on his bike at the bus stop, said he shops at the San Mateo Walmart on a regular basis and doesn’t have access to a vehicle.
“For the local people, it’s going to be very hard … because everybody depends on the store,” said Pacheco.