Empty Magic Mart

The former Magic Mart location remains unclaimed Monday, as Goodsons’ waits for tenant for the building.

WELCH — With the recent purchase of the former Magic Mart in Welch by Goodsons’ Supermarkets, McDowell County officials continue to hope that building as well as the empty Walmart in Kimball will find new tenants.

Cecil Patterson, county commission president, said Goodsons’ Supermarket, which has stores in Welch and Pineville and is based in Oceana, purchased the Magic Mart building and is actively searching for a tenant.

The building is in the same shopping area as Goodsons’ Welch grocery store.

Patterson said a representative from Goodsons recently addressed commission members.

“He said they are actively seeking an occupant for the building,” Patterson said. “He said the more traffic in the shopping area, it would be good for all the stores.”

Patterson remains optimistic.

“The Goodsons are good business people,” he said. “I think they will find someone soon.”

In July 2018, citing “difficult economic conditions,” Ammar’s, Inc., the parent company of the regional Magic Mart chain, announced the closing of all of its department stores in southern West Virginia and Southwest Virginia, as well as the company’s headquarters and warehouse facility in Bluefield, Va.

Hundreds of employees in three states were impacted by the closures, and the Magic Mart stores in Welch, Tazewell, Richlands, Grundy and Beckley were all shuttered.

That announcement followed the earlier closure of Walmart, which shut its doors in early 2016.

Rural King, which opened a store in Mercer Mall in 2017, purchased that Walmart building in late 2016, but apparently still has no plans for it.

“We have talked to Rural King about everything from putting in a store, leasing it to another company or the county buying it,” Patterson said. “We are still talking to them about it.”

But so far nothing is on the table.

“Rural King said it’s not in their plans now to open it when I spoke to them last,” he said.

Former McDowell County Commission member Gordon Lambert said at the time of the purchase in 2016 Rural King paid $175,000 the building, which he estimated to be worth between $4 million and $5 million.

The school system also was interested in the building.

David Williams, president of the McDowell County Board of Education, said then that the county school system had approached Rural King about acquiring the former Walmart property. Possible uses included moving the school system’s office to the building or consolidating some schools and locating them at the property.

“We offered what they paid for it supposedly,” Williams said. The company wanted to lease the building to the school system, but the price would have been too high. Williams could not remember the exact price, but estimated it would have paid off the company’s investment within a year.

“We’d like to have a business there because a business puts jobs in the community,” Williams said of the property.

Former Superintendent Nelson Spencer said the school system had spoken with a Rural King subsidiary in Pittsburgh about leasing approximately 10,000 square feet of the building for office space, but the company wanted $8,000 a month, “and that was not for the entire building.”

McDowell County has been struggling with its budget because of a falling tax base and losing two major businesses and the those jobs hit the county hard.

— Contact Charles Boothe at cboothe@bdtonline.com