New Wal-Mart officially opens in Paw Paw

PAW PAW, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - After nearly a decade of planning and construction, the Village of Paw Paw is getting its first big box store.

The new Wal-Mart Super Center opened Wednesday morning in Paw Paw, near I-94 and M-40.

Construction started in August on the 20 acre site.

The new superstore, however, is bringing mixed reaction in the community.

Wal-Mart has been looking to build in Paw Paw since 2006, and now, the store that has been in the works for 8 years has finally opened its doors.

Wednesday morning's ribbon cutting and ceremony was a packed house.

The new Super Center is expected to employ more than 200 people, and while it will be smaller than most, it will have a full line of groceries, clothes, electronics, and health products.

Wal-Mart had been eyeing the land for years, but the store was delayed because of the economy.

Now that it is opening, some small businesses in the area are concerned it will take customers away from them.

Downtown Paw Paw already has several empty storefronts.

The Downtown Development Authority says it's hoping the big box retailer will actually bring more shoppers into the area, and is even working with businesses to help them compete with the retail giant.

"It can being people into our restaurants, into our smaller shops that are speciality shops, like some of our antique stores that are one of a kind places, so we're very excited for hem to be here," said Dondi Squires, with the Paw Paw Area Chamber of Commerce.

So far, reactions to the chain have been mixed.

"If I quickly need a present for someone, clothes, something like that, so we don't have to drive all the way to Kalamazoo," said Paw Paw resident Sarah Owens.

"It will obviously be cheaper," said Michelle Sabo, of Lawton. "But you also get what you pay for, too."

"Some actually have made changes and/or left becasue they know they won't be able to survive," said Joe Romph, owner of Paw Paw Village Drug.

The store officially opened its doors at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday.

It will be open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.