Walmart on Portage Road to close; what comes next?

Published: Mar. 22, 2023 at 6:55 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Many customers have shared their disappointment with the news that the Walmart off of Portage Road in South Bend will close next month.

A main reason of concern is the fact that once the store has gone, a large building will likely be left vacant.

“As a major retailer shuts their doors, often times those spaces sit empty for a while,” said Jeff Rea, the President and CEO of the South Bend Regional Chamber.

According to the city, Walmart does own the property of the Portage Road location, meaning they should maintain the space until a new store can move in.

The question is, when will that be?

“It’s hard to fill a space like that and if you think about a couple large empty retail spaces around town, the Menards on the south side comes to mind for example. Those just aren’t easy to plug something else in,” Rea said.

The South Bend Regional Chamber told 16 News Now that the Walmart was a catalyst for development in that Portage Road corridor.

“It’s interesting, you think of things, like Chick-Fil-A came in just last year and Chick-Fil-A is a really strong indicator of what they think is a viable commercial area,” Rea said.

With a Meijer, Aldi, Walgreens, and Goodwill in the same corridor, Walmart shared that the Portage Road location wasn’t meeting financial expectations.

Tom Lowe is the President and CEO of his company Round 2 and sells his model car kits through Walmart.

With the location so close to his home and office, he has frequently visited the Portage Road location.

“I come here from time to time just to straighten it up and yeah, I came here and then I learned that this Walmart’s closing and I’m kind of bummed out because now I can’t do convenient store checks,” Lowe said.

According to the South Bend Regional Chamber, there are many factors that can go into a store not performing well, including cleanliness, customer experience, and more.

“We’ve all become pretty accustomed to buying things online, and we like the convenience of that, and it’s had its impact obviously on retail store’s sales,” Rea said.

The store is set to close April 21st.

Patients of the pharmacy will have help transferring prescriptions and employees will be assisted in moving to new locations as well.