Small-business owners in Fallon react to Wal-Mart superstore | NevadaAppeal.com

Small-business owners in Fallon react to Wal-Mart superstore

MARLENE GARCIA
Nevada Appeal News Service
Local small-business owners have mixed feelings about the arrival of a Wal-Mart Supercenter in Fallon. Some view the store as a direct competitor, while others expect spillover business. Kim Lamb/Nevada Appeal News Service
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With an expanded Wal-Mart Supercenter opening Wednesday, some small- business owners in Fallon are concerned about how the mega-store will affect their livelihood.

Others are not worried.

Every department in the current Wal-mart store will be expanded to offer more merchandise. The Supercenter will also add a liquor department, hair salon and optometry services.

Ron Brandt, owner of Frontier Liquor and Sporting Goods, thinks the opening of the expanded Wal-mart could help his business. He said when Wal-mart first came to town in 1996, business picked up at his store.

“I’m not worried about it. When Wal-mart originally opened, it helped business because it brought more people into town,” he said.

Brandt believes the addition of a grocery store in Wal-mart will have the largest impact on local businesses.

Beant Singh, owner of Best Discount Liquor & Smokes on West Williams Avenue, said Wal-mart’s liquor sales might impact him at first, But he believes his prices will remain lower than those at the retail giant.

“I think customers want to make one stop to buy food and clothes. They want to slide their card only one time,” Singh said. “At first, everyone will be excited and want to see what they have, but everybody’s very smart to check prices. After one month, I’ll be OK,” Singh said.

He said he can keep liquor and tobacco prices low because he works 17 hours a day and doesn’t have to pay employees.

Fallon Optometrist Greg Koenig said he is anxious to see what kind of optometry services the Supercenter will offer.

“I’m sure it’s going to affect us some, but I don’t think it’ll have a big effect,” Koenig said about the practice he shares with Dr. Carl Robertson on Taylor Street.

He said he is contacted frequently with offers to move to other areas because there is a shortage of optometrists who want to work in small towns. Koenig said the Reno Wal-mart Supercenters do not have a full-time optometrists.

“I want to see their set-up,” Koenig said about the services Wal-mart will offer. “They might have found someone to come out full time in Fallon, but I don’t know where they would get someone.”

He added that some vision insurance plans are not accepted at Wal-mart optometry departments.

“We have a 4,000 square-foot building with all the latest equipment, and they will have a little closet,” he said.

Two other local optometrists did not immediately return telephone calls seeking comment.

The owners of two pet stores say they might be impacted by Wal-mart’s opening.

Gerry McFall, who has operated The Family Pet Connection since 1988 in the Fallon Center, is hoping the community continues to be loyal to small businesses.

He said when Wal-mart came to Fallon in 1996, he lost 50 percent to 75 percent of his business.

“I had to take aquarium and bird stuff out of my store. To stay in business, I had to do that,” McFall said. “They are a very competitive company, and I’m a very small business. To compete against a person like me is dishonest. They’ve taken out a lot of small businessmen.”

He will wait and see what Wal-mart’s larger pet department offers, and again change his inventory if he has to. McFall sells quality pet food that cannot be purchased at Wal-mart or other chain stores.

“Right now, I don’t carry stuff that Wal-mart carries. If they do start carrying it, I take it out of my store,” he said.

Eva Gross, owner of Mutts, Etc. on Auction Road also carries merchandise that Wal-mart doesn’t sell.

“I carry better-quality leather collars and unique harnesses that Wal-mart doesn’t carry,” she said.

She can also order anything a customer needs, she said.

Gross sells a variety of doggy treats and offers a strip of dried duck meat to every four-legged creature who comes in with its owner.

“I don’t think Wal-mart is going to allow dogs to come in and say ‘hi,'” she said. “People like our customer service, and I’m not going to get paranoid before I know what’s going on. I think people are going to be loyal to customer service.”

— Marlene Garcia can be contacted at mgarcia@lahontanvalleynews.com.