Walmarts in Liberty, Midway, Yanceyville among stores closing

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LIBERTY, N.C. -- Daniel Francis shops at the Walmart Express on Swannanoa Avenue about two to three times a week.

It's a quick and easy, five-minute drive from his home, but pretty soon those trips to the grocery store will get much longer.

In less than two weeks, Walmart Express stores in Liberty, Midway and Yanceyville will close.

"It's a tremendous inconvenience when you live way out here," Francis said.

On Friday, the retail giant announced it was closing 154 stores in the U.S.

About two-thirds of the nationwide closures are Walmart Express stores.

For Francis -- a faithful Walmart shopper -- the nearest chains are in Burlington and Siler City, both 15 to 20 minutes away.

"That's a lot of extra miles,” he said. “You have to plan on being out a little while longer."

Liberty Mayor Filmore York was shocked when he got the news, mainly because the store gets a lot of business.

"Pharmacy stays busy, a lot of shoppers in the stores," York said.

York says he's also concerned about the 24 employees that will soon be out of a job.

"Everybody's really concerned. What is going to happen? Why did it happen?" he said.

Company officials say they plan on transferring displaced workers to stores nearby or offering severance packages.

But for small, independent shops like Liberty Family Pharmacy, Walmart Express closing means more customers.

"We're going to see a big difference,” said pharmacy technician Margaret Bass. “Everyone is going to start coming over."

Dozens of people have already switched their drug prescriptions over from Walmart's pharmacy to theirs.

"We have had so many transfers in today," Bass said.

The Walmart Express stores in Liberty, Midway and Yanceyville are set to close on Jan. 28.

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