Walmart in Livingston to shut down for plumbing renovations, leaving many without jobs

LIVINGSTON, TX (KTRK) -- Residents in the East Texas town of Livingston fear Walmart -- its store that employs hundreds of people -- won't reopen after abruptly closing its doors.

At a meeting Monday night, Walmart employees were told the store was closing temporarily and its 400 employees would be out of jobs if they couldn't transfer to another store. Spokesperson Anne Hatfield sent Eyewitness News this statement:

"As part of an effort to ensure all of our stores are fully serving the needs of our customers we regularly assess the conditions of our stores. Due to ongoing plumbing issues that will require extensive repairs we are temporarily closing the Livingston store. We will immediately begin the process to address these issues and intend to reopen the store as soon as all of the plumbing issues are resolved. Deciding to close a store is not a decision we make lightly, but after careful consideration, we felt it was necessary to make these repairs so we can better serve our customers and the community in the long run."

However, in the small town of 5,200 people, there is skepticism.

"Are they coming back? Stay closed? What's going to happen?" asked Kenneth Taborn, one of the employees who lost his job.

The 21-year-old works to also support his grandfather.

"I'm very worried, times are tight," said Taborn.

Taborn was directly affected. In just two days' time, Joe Gjoka's restaurant, Joe's Italian Grill, has felt the side effects, too. It's right across Highway 190 from Walmart, and Gjoka says his business is already down by half.

"If I look like that, can't pay my rent. I promise you," said Gjoka.

Walmart customers and employees would often fill his tables. He is very concerned.

"It's bad news for Livingston, 400 people. These people need help, jobs. Bad news. I think very big problem. Small town needs Walmart. People have bills, have family, have kids," said Gjoka.

Walmart says the store could be closed for six months. Nationwide, three other stores have also closed for repairs. null
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