Brackett: Pickens Walmart building ahead of schedule

By Nicole Daughhetee
Courier Staff

PICKENS — Pickens city administrator Katherine Brackett said the Walmart Supercenter set to open this spring in Pickens could be ready for business as soon as late March or early April.

“I think the construction might actually be ahead of schedule,” said Brackett, who said she has not gotten a specific opening date from the company. “Initially there was supposed to be some grading work done on the construction site, but it turns out that it didn’t need to be done.”

When it is complete, the Pickens Walmart will measure approximately 90,000 square feet in area, with 17,000 square feet of that devoted to grocery items.

Brackett said that while some people have expressed doubts, the new Walmart will be classified as a Supercenter because of the space allotted for groceries.

“All the departments in the Pickens Walmart will be exactly the same as the Easley Super Walmart,” said Brackett. “The only difference is the Pickens Walmart is half the size of the one in Easley.”

Despite the fact that construction for Walmart is nearing completion, some Pickens residents and business owners have mixed emotions about the presence of the supercenter in their town.

“People have asked how we could allow it. The land was zoned for commercial development,” said Brackett. “We had public meetings, and no one spoke out against the Walmart. We couldn’t tell them ‘no’ legally.”

Some have argued that Walmart could have a negative impact on small businesses in the downtown area of Pickens.

“There was a problem with the downtown even before a Walmart existed in Pickens. It is just one more hurdle to overcome, “said Brackett. “What we are trying to do as a city is be a friend to the local businesses and provide them with the support they need to be competitive.”

The city has joined the Main Street program and is trying to provide local merchants with opportunities and incentives to flourish and thrive, Brackett said. Programs like the Façade Improvement Grant and Gift of Pickens were designed to encourage local shopping in downtown businesses.

Brackett also said other citywide initiatives, such as the $500,000 investment in an amphitheater and the creation of wayfinding signs serve to direct and bring people to the downtown area of Pickens so local stores will have more traffic.

“The Walmart is going to affect each business differently,” Brackett said. “However, having a Walmart in Pickens means that people who would leave Pickens to shop at other Walmarts — like the ones in Easley or Greenville — can stay and shop here, which keeps money in the local economy.”

It would appear as though Walmart has already been beneficial to the Pickens economy, inasmuch as roughly 200 part- and full-time jobs have been created and will be necessary to run the new store.