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Closure of a Walmart in Colorado leaves customers, public transportation users concerned about food access: "I need this store"

Walmart store rated third worst-reviewed grocery market in Colorado set to close
Walmart store rated third worst-reviewed grocery market in Colorado set to close 03:28

A Walmart Neighborhood Market in Aurora will close for good in early June, and many people say it's a devastating decision that will impact their lives in many ways.

The Walmart store off of East Colfax Avenue and Havana Street is the nearest grocery store for many people, including walkers, bikers, and public transportation users.

"I need this store, because as a disabled senior, where am I going to go now? It's too hard," said one female customer who wanted to remain anonymous. "I'm in shock because I come here once a month every month to buy my groceries."

The customer said she relied on this store, in part, because it's right next to an RTD bus stop.

"It's a long bus ride for me, but the convenience of getting off the bus and getting right to the store and then going right back to catch my bus is something that I need," said the customer.

In a statement to CBS News Colorado, a spokesperson for Walmart said the decision to close the store was not made lightly, and that the store was not meeting Walmart's financial expectations. 

They added that the store hasn't performed as well as hoped and was an underperforming location.


Less than three weeks before the closure and many of the shelves are already empty. Sale signs of "50% off" are also posted along the aisles.

Caitlin Matthews is the executive director of Food Justice NW Aurora, a nonprofit organization focused on improving the quality and access to food.

Matthews said when the Walmart closes, there won't be a full-service grocery store for six miles on the Colfax Corridor. She added that the store is more than just access to food.

"Our basic needs like food, as well as things like diapers and hygiene supplies and basic necessities, like paper towels and cleaning solution," said Matthews.

The closure is also already forcing people to travel further and find other options for food like at cultural markets.

"They're vital to our community, and they're centers of cultural socializing. But their prices are higher generally speaking, and that can really stretch people," said Matthews.

Matthews said people might have to make multiple stops to get groceries or seek other resources within the community. Others might be more dependent on convenience stores or food at gas stations.

P.J. Parmar is a family doctor and founder of Mango House, a building nearby that houses a medical and dental clinic, a pharmacy and restaurants. Parmar said Walmart isn't the only store to go out of business recently within the span of a few blocks.

"Family Dollar and Dollar Tree have both gone out of business in the last year also and they're big spaces with boarded-up windows right now," said Parmar. "I think that's part of doing business in this community, and hopefully any of us who have businesses in this community have learned to deal with it and embrace it."


Parmar also said now that many of the large, corporate-owned stores have closed, much of the business will shift toward small, family-owned businesses.

"We put up some flowers to try to beautify the neighborhood, and I think other businesses need to step up and be part of that challenge," said Parmar. "It would be great if there were other businesses that could come in to fill these voids. I'd be more than excited about that."

Meanwhile, the Walmart customer said she's still trying to figure out where she'll buy her groceries moving forward.

"This is going to be more difficult for me to try to figure out where to pay my bills and where I'm going to go buy more groceries. I haven't the faintest idea."

The Walmart store will close to the public on June 7.

Conversations are already being held among community and city leaders, and nonprofits, to talk about the future of the Colfax Corridor, and many of those conversations have been focused around the Walmart Neighborhood Market.

"It's really important that we convene residents of this area to talk about the challenges they're facing the challenges, that are being exacerbated by the departure of this store, and to really envision together as a community, what we need and what we want to bring into this area so that people do have access to affordable, nutritious and culturally important food," said Matthews.

The Aurora Urban Renewal Authority also voted on a proposal for the City of Aurora to be involved in a study involving revitalization.

The city said it's still unclear what will happen to the building when Walmart closes or if another business will move in.

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