Wal-Mart welcomed in west Saint John

A new Wal-Mart that opened in west Saint John on Friday is being well-received by area residents and small businesses alike.

Head of local business association believes it will help draw customers to area

A new Wal-Mart opened at the Lancaster Mall on Saint John's west side Friday. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)
Blaine Harris, of the Saint John West Business Association, believes Wal-Mart will draw customers from Pennfield through to St. George. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)

A new Wal-Mart that opened in west Saint John on Friday is being well-received by area residents and small businesses alike.

The arrival of big box stores often creates concerns about lost business for small stores.

But Blaine Harris, the head of the Saint John West Business Association and owner of a local barber shop, is excited about the new customers Wal-Mart will bring to the area.

"Wal-Mart's a drawer. So in an area where small businesses are common, but not flourishing to the degree that they would like to, Wal-Mart's a new pull," Harris said.

"Wal-Mart will bring in people from outside of our area. We expect people from Pennfield, through to St. George."

Sonya Leroux is excited about the convenience of having a large retail story nearby. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)

West side resident Barbara Morrison is happy she doesn't have to travel to the city's east side to visit Wal-Mart anymore.

"I think it's wonderful," she said, adding she doubts she'll ever go to the other location again. "Not if I can help it. I'd rather just shop here."

Fellow west-sider Andy Leroux, who braved the grand opening crowds, is a bit worried about how traffic in the small Lancaster Mall parking lot will be affected.

"I think it's going to be bad, especially leading up to Christmas. But even on a Saturday or a Sunday, it's going to be bad in here I think," he said.

Still, his wife Sonya Leroux is excited.

"We really don't have a lot here on the west side and it's just nice to actually get something big where you can, if you've got to run out and get a clothing item, you can get it," she said.