Businesses see increased sales because of Walmart

Merlin’s Family Restaurant owner Sue Weitnauer, center, is flanked by Linda Whitcomb, left, and Stacie Cameron, at Merlin’s.
Merlin’s Family Restaurant owner Sue Weitnauer, center, is flanked by Linda Whitcomb, left, and Stacie Cameron, at Merlin’s.

Sales have picked up at a number of the businesses around the new Walmart store since it opened just over a month ago.
One of the closest stores to Walmart’s front entrance is the municipal liquor store, Princeton Wine & Spirits. The business had already been doing very well since opening in the new building there nearly four years ago. But now that the long-anticipated opening of Walmart has occurred, the off-sale liquor store’s sales have risen even more.
“I don’t know the numbers yet,” manager Nancy Campbell said of the effects of Walmart on the store.
Campbell, nevertheless, estimated that the liquor store’s business is “probably up 10 percent,” since Feb. 1 when the new Walmart opened. That amount of increase is “what we expected,” Campbell said.
The biggest increase in sales for Princeton Wine & Spirits has been during weekends, Campbell said.
The Walmart opening has “definitely helped” Hofman Oil, said Brent Hofman. He and his parents, Tony and Cheryle Hofman, own Hofman Oil, which has the BP gas station and convenience store. It is located just south of Highway 95 and adjacent to the 21st Avenue that carries traffic to the Walmart parking lot.
“The general business as a whole has a lot more people, more traffic,” Brent said about the gas station.
But Hofman said it is still too early to tell what the Walmart store’s long-range effect will be on Hofman Oil.
Perhaps after a year or so there can be something more conclusive, he indicated.
Sue Weitnauer, who will have owned Merlin’s Family Restaurant with husband Clayton Weitnauer for 19 years this coming May, said the opening of Walmart “has been good for us. I think there is more traffic coming down the way. Weekends are good. During the week it hasn’t been as busy as we thought it would be.”
Sue Weitnauer said sales seem to also be better during the weekday lunch times since Walmart’s opening.
Between the weekday lunches and the weekends, business has risen about 10 percent at Merlin’s, she said. Because of the extra sale
s, she has added another employee.
Merlin’s hasn’t yet gone back to the old hours that it had before reducing them two years ago. For many years, Merlin’s was open 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. The restaurant now closes at 3 p.m.
“We will be watching that,” Sue said about the hours now that the traffic at Rivertown Crossing has significantly increased.
Madre Loca Mexican restaurant is getting a bump in business from the Walmart opening, according to its owner, Heide Burns.
Burns estimated last week that Madre Loca’s business has picked up approximately 20 percent plus since the Walmart opening. Burns said she noticed the increase “pretty much in the first week and predicted that it will continue to rise as more people are made aware of Madre Loca’s existence as shoppers drive to Walmart.
Burns, who has added American food to the Madre Loca menu, said she is not surprised by the effect of Walmart’s opening on her business.
“As things go, we may stay open later if the demand is there,” she said.