Some residents in Jay are devastated after learning their Walmart is closing next month.
In a notice given to the state by Walmart, they said the 67 employees who work there will be laid off effective September 25. David Harmon has family who works at the store and said with the slow economy and COVID-19 pandemic, the timing couldn't be worse.
"The economy the way it is right now, it's very difficult for them to find a job in Jay, Oklahoma. They have to go outside, and their either going to have to move or drive up to 30 or 40 miles every day in one direction to have a job."
Not only will Jay be losing more than 60 jobs, but on August 22, they'll be losing a store that's been around for decades.
"Everybody in this community and outside communities, the small towns outside of our community, this is the only place they have to go shop, they don't have anything closer," said Harmon.
There are, however, other grocery stores in Jay like Homeland and Dollar General as well as another Walmart about 15 miles north in Grove, but many people said that doesn't quite cut it. Sherbie and Loren Tollefson said having the Walmart nearby is important.
"Knowing Walmart was here was one of the reasons we settled here. We've only been here three years and now you're taking it away," said Sherbie.
Perhaps the biggest impact for this tight-knit community is the shock of losing the store and where the town will go from here.
Mayor Becki Farley posted on Facebook that, "We will be putting together a team of community leaders, along with tribal, state, local, and federal officials to work on solutions."
Anne Hatfield, a Walmart spokesperson said the following:
After a careful and thoughtful review process, we have made the difficult decision to close our store in Jay. The decision is based on several factors including the store’s overall performance.
We remain deeply invested in Oklahoma, serving Oklahomans at 134 other locations and providing jobs to more than 31,000 associates throughout the state.
Our associates are the heartbeat of the company and our priority is to take care of them during this transition. We hope that many of the 67 associates at our Jay store will want to continue their career with Walmart by transferring to one of our nearby stores or Sams Clubs. Our HR teams will help identify transfer opportunities and assist associates through the transfer process.
The store closes to the public August 21st.