BRANDON, Fla. (WFLA) – The Brandon Walmart store – and four others across the country – closed without warning on April 13. In the Tampa Bay area, 400 people were left scrambling to find other jobs. The stores are now set to reopen.
The Brandon store is scheduled to open in late October or early November – in time for the holidays.
Last spring, Walmart said plumbing issues caused all five stores to close. On Wednesday a Walmart spokesperson insisted that is, in fact, why the Brandon Supercenter shut down. “We’re pleased to say that while the process to conduct plumbing repairs and store upgrades is still ongoing, our goal is to begin serving customers,” spokesman William C. Wertz said.
But, the closing was met with a great deal of scrutiny. At the time, employees told News Channel 8 they received a mere five hours’ notice about the closure. It took the Brandon store’s management weeks to pull a permit for repairs. “The fact that a permit hasn’t been pulled and the store’s been down for almost a month I find a little surprising and frankly alarming,” Hillsborough County Commissioner Victor Crist said in May. Crist’s district includes the Walmart Superstore.
On Wednesday, news of the reopening made Angelo Dirosa very happy. His pizza restaurant is right next to the empty Walmart. The April closing hit him hard.
“We lost pretty much all our lunch crowd. We still have a very good dinner crowd, but the lunches, totally gone,” Dirosa said.
Former employees are allowed to reapply for their jobs. Walmart is interviewing prospective employees at a “hiring center” in a business plaza near the store.
“We are now ready to officially begin the hiring process,” Wertz said Wednesday. “This includes communicating with associates that have transferred to surrounding area stores and encouraging all others interested in exploring employment opportunities with Walmart to also apply.”
Walmart fans were happy to hear about the reopening. “It’s good. New opportunities. People have work back. New job opportunities. All that matters,” Lena Nahhas said.