Livingston community upset over Walmart closing

By Jennifer Bauer - Reporter

LIVINGSTON, Texas - Workers and shoppers at the Walmart store in Livingston were given shocking news on Monday. They were told the store would be closing its doors at 7 p.m. that same night. Employees said they were given just a few hours notice.

"There was a lot of emotions," said Walmart worker Lorenzo Johnson. "A lot of people were crying, trying to comfort each other. Some people have been here 25-30 years."

Ruth Jansoon held back tears as she spoke about the job she has had at the Livingston Walmart for the last 10 years.

"Well you know, we have a job. This is a small town. Where are we gonna get a job at?"

The company told Channel 2 News in a statement the closure was only temporary due to ongoing plumbing issues that will require extensive repairs.

"Deciding to close a store is not a decision we make lightly," Anne Hatfield with Walmart said. "After careful consideration, we felt it necessary to make these repairs so we can better serve our customers in the long run."

We're told four other Walmart locations across the country will be temporarily closing for the same reason.

Some workers are skeptical, they said they want to believe the closure is only temporary but they aren't sure.

A letter handed out to them said the store will not re-open in the next six months. That news came as quite a shock to not just the workers but also shoppers.

"They must employee, here in Polk County, close to 500 people," said Betty Suarez. "What's that gonna do to our unemployment rate?"

Suarez said when Walmart opened in Livingston many years ago, many of the local grocery stores and other store were forced to shut down because they couldn't compete with Walmart's prices. Now, she said, they have nothing.

"Well, it looks like we're gonna be shopping in Cleveland or Huntsville or Woodsville or Lufkin," Suarez said. "(Because) we have nothing here."

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