As a proposal to build a Walmart in East Patchogue continues to work its way through Brookhaven Town Hall, current business owners in Patchogue Village are divided on whether the superstore would harm their own bottom line.
“I will probably lose 50 percent of my business. It’s not good,” said Raj Bajaj, owner of on Main Street regarding the of the big box store. “I can’t compete with the giant."
Bajaj said that customers would likely turn to Walmart for its lower prices.
“As a business owner, I definitely don’t like it but if I was a consumer, I would like to have that kind of store around,” Bajaj said.
Walmart officials say that stores have a positive impact on the local economy in the communities they serve.
"In addition to generating property and sales tax revenues that support community services like schools and police departments, new Walmart developments often spark economic growth where stores are located," said the statement. "In addition, we know residents in the East Patchogue area are eager to take advantage of the savings that Walmart will bring to their monthly grocery bills."
On the other hand, several other local businesses said they weren't concerned with Walmart coming to town.
“They don’t sell the breadth of our merchandise,” said Cherie Alleyne, of .
What most local business owners do agree on, however, is the proposed location for the Walmart--on Hospital Road near the south Sunrise Highway service road--is far from ideal.
“There’s the Bellport Outlet Centers that are now empty,” said Dave Zegel of Weiner’s Shoes. “Let them build there - let them build in a more accessible place. It’s just not an accessible location with the hospital right there and the little bridge.”
Lari Fiala agrees with Zegel.
“It’s not the right place for it--bottom line," Fiala said. "It might affect business somewhat but it’s definitely not a good spot for it."
Walmart officials released a statement in June stating that it significantly reduced the size of the proposed store to under 100,000 square feet in order to reduce the traffic impact. Walmart had originally planned to build a 108,000 square-foot store, but it was forced to reassess to the smaller size after Brookhaven Town . Walmart also stated that it was working with the Town on widening the bridge and that the property owner had contributed $357,730 toward that effort.
The Town of Brookhaven has the for the new Walmart, but no timeline has been set for potential approval of the overall project.
As the waiting game continues, Jimmy Sarno, owner of Patchogue's , said that when presented with a choice of shopping at Walmart or pumping dollars into local small businesses, consumers' attitudes are changing.
“For the past 20 years, there have been Price Clubs, Home Depots and everything else going up,” Sarno said. “I think people are starting to veer towards home and the cozy, village feeling again.”
Tracy Diamond and Michael Sorrentino contributed to this report.