BEEBE, Ark. (KTHV) - The world's largest retailer is planting roots in another Central Arkansas community. And it will bring with it around 300 new jobs.
We're talking about Beebe and a Walmart Super Center coming to the home of Badgers. It's all the buzz around town with a lot of folks excited about it while some local businesses feeling the time's coming to step up their game.
"A Perfect Bloom, how can I help you," Kelly Warden asks a customer on the phone at her store Wednesday.
Kelly Warden owns A Perfect Bloom in Beebe.
"What time are you going to be there till?" Warden asks the customer on the phone.
The specialty store's been here five years, selling everything from candles to sandals. But with major buzz in town, Warden's bracing for a battle with a retail Goliath.
"Oh, listen everybody's talking about it, it is the big rage right now," Warden said. "As a retail business I'm concerned, we just have to make sure that we step it up a notch and make sure we carry stuff that Walmart doesn't have."
Walmart plans to build a Super Center on land along West Center Street in Beebe near Commerce Lane. Mayor Mike Robertson says he's not hearing any concern.
"Beebe has wished for a Walmart for many, many years, but it's been in the works for about a year now and we're very excited about it," Mayor Robertson said.
Robertson says he's excited about 300 new jobs and a launching pad for city business expansion.
"It's the first piece of economic development for major, what we believe to be major commercial growth," Mayor Robertson said.
The mayor envisions further development around the Super Center that is set to start construction as early as August and open in about a year.
Back with Warden, she sees the positive with Walmart and city growth, but knows she can't move ahead without that simple game plan.
"Got to have something they don't and that's what we try to do," Warden said.
One interesting twist to this story: the site at hand is where those famous Beebe blackbirds have flocked to in recent years. The birds made headlines New Year's 2011 when thousands fell from the sky, possibly spooked by fireworks. The mayor says these birds are adaptable and have lived in other parts of town over the years. He says it's a non-issue here and Walmart's actually done a study on it.
We also talked to a Walmart spokeswoman Wednesday who confirmed the company's expansion plans to Beebe.