Eight months after opening in Luther, a Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market closed its doors for good Thursday. It’s sparked outrage from some in the town who are asking the company to pay for the youth league football field where it built the market.
The outrage was followed by a petition from parents of the Luther Lions youth football team. The mother who wrote the petition called the closure “a slap in the face” and she wants the company to “do the right thing” by paying for a new field.
One parent commented on the petition saying their son “sacrificed” when the town sold the land to Wal-Mart and said even more plainly, “this sucks…”
“How did Wal-Mart not know coming into this eight months ago that they weren't going to make the kind of money that they were expecting?” Aaron Edwards asked Thursday afternoon while standing in front of the soon to be defunct store.
Edwards is a small town filmmaker who made a YouTube video title “How Wal-Mart Ruined My Town” about the closure and the reaction from the town.
Edwards said the youth league team was forced to play on the high school field instead, which meant forfeiting revenue from concessions sales. The team used the money to pay for uniforms, helmets and pads, according to Edwards.
This neighborhood market is one of six Wal-Mart locations that closed Thursday in Oklahoma and one of 154 the company was forced to close after lackluster sales in 2015.
When asked if Wal-Mart would honor their request a spokesperson said via email "Our plan is to make a $3,000 donation to the local food bank serving the communities of every closed store and to fund applications from charities in the affected areas."
The spokesperson also said employees at the marketplace would be kept on the payroll through Feb. 10 for store cleanup and anyone not transferred by that date would be paid for an additional 60 days.
But for Edwards, it's about more than just a field or some money. It's about loyalty and doing the right thing.
“A customer here should be the same as a customer in Edmond or in Oklahoma City or in major city. A customer is a customer,” he said.