Wal-Mart, Food 4 Less closings strand many in Las Vegas Valley

On a recent Friday, a woman took count of the stream of people funneling into a church food bank.

She waved on those she recognized, checking them into a spreadsheet on her laptop, and requested an ID from those she didn’t.

In recent months, there had been a lot of new faces.

The woman taking count, Margaret Whipple, is secretary of Nellis Baptist Church, which sits directly across from a vacant Wal-Mart in the northeast part of the valley.

The brand’s January departure from this neighborhood near Nellis Air Force Base surprised brokers and residents alike and left the area with few nearby grocery options. “Valley

The local closure was part of a larger plan that shuttered 154 stores nationally and 115 in Latin America. The company said in a January statement that the closures followed a review of its properties that considered factors including “financial performance” and “strategic alignment with long-term plans.”

Whipple said attendance at her food ministry has almost doubled since Wal-Mart closed.

“We give them what we can, but it’s not always enough,” Whipple said.

According to Three Square Food bank data, over the six months preceding October 2016, Nellis Baptist Church increased its food distribution to more than 112,000 pounds, an increase of approximately 43 percent, compared with the same period last year.

The location of the former Wal-Mart falls within the 89115 ZIP code, which is among the most food-insecure places in the valley, according to a 2015 map by Three Square Food Bank.

A map from the Department of Agriculture also puts the area in a “food desert.” The department considers urban areas with high population concentrations that are more than 1 mile from a grocery store to be lacking in access. In rural areas, the distance is 10 miles.

In 2015, a Food 4 Less closed just three miles south of the Wal-Mart. Kit Graski, director with ROI Commercial Real Estate, which represents the landlord, said no one has moved in, but his team is in talks with a grocer.

On a recent Friday afternoon, the parking lot of the Wal-Mart was empty except for a security patrol car parked on the store’s front curb.

The faint outline of the company logo was visible against the brown stone wall outside.

Broker Douglas Albright of Albright Callister & Associates, which represents Wal-Mart, said the building was for sale but that nothing was under contract yet.

Skylar and Alejandra, a young couple that live in the neighborhood, said they have frequented the food bank more often since Wal-Mart’s closure.

The couple, who asked to be identified by their first names, said the food bank was helpful but didn’t have a lot of vegetables or meat.

Skylar said they take the bus to grocery options farther down Nellis Boulevard, but bringing a lot of groceries back can be difficult, even if they bring a backpack to carry them.

Standing on the street across from the vacant Wal-Mart, Skylar said he was hopeful that another grocer would move into the property.

“It would make things a lot easier,” Skylar said.

Jerad, 27, who lives in apartments directly across from the Wal-Mart and who also declined to give his last name, said he frequented the store up to three times a month before it closed.

To get baby formula and groceries, Jerad said he now takes the bus or comes to the food bank “to see what kind of help I can get.”


The food “desert” also has caught the attention of nearby elementary school principals.

Anthony Nuñez, principal of Manch elementary school, a block east of the Wal-Mart, said his school has about 100 students that qualify as homeless and sends about 100 bags of food home with students every week. The Wal-Mart was significant for the community, Nuñez said, because it was within walking distance in a neighborhood where many lack personal transportation.

Louis Markouzis, principal of Lowman Elementary School, just south of Manch, said that it has become a struggle for residents to get basic living essentials. “Our families now have to go miles and miles away to do that,” said Markouzis.

Markouzis said the neighborhood stands in contrast to other parts of the valley, where many take for granted having access to nearby grocery stores. “It’s almost like the forgotten corner of the city,” said Markouzis.

At both schools, 100 percent of students qualify for free breakfast and lunch.

Dan Williams, chief operating officer of Three Square Food Bank, said there are several factors that contribute to the area’s food-insecure designation.

“No grocery stores,” he said. “That is the main factor. When you look at impoverished neighborhoods, you don’t see a lot of retail chains entering those markets.”

That void translates into a lack of access to a wide variety of foods, which results in people leaning more on convenience stores, according to Williams.

Convenience stores end up patching up some of that food insecurity because they accept EBT or food stamps, said Williams. Many resident in low-income neighborhoods lack reliable access to transportation or can’t carry as many groceries on the bus, he also said.

To combat food-insecurity issues in the area, Three Square works with Nellis Baptist Church to distribute food there.

“(There are) a lot of barriers that food-insecure people are up against,” said Williams.

Contact Alexander S. Corey at acorey@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0270. Find @acoreynews on Twitter.

Las Vegas union members voting to authorize the right to strike
Thousands of Las Vegas union members voting Tuesday morning to authorize the right to strike. A “yes” vote would give the union negotiating committee the power to call a strike anytime after June 1 at the resorts that fail to reach an agreement. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Small businesses struggle to find qualified candidates
A 2018 survey found that over two-thirds of small businesses in Nevada find it somewhat to very difficult to recruit qualified candidates. Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Nevada secretary of state website offers little protection against fraudulent business filings
Property developer Andy Pham tells how control of his business was easily seized by another person using the secretary of state website.
Caesars may be going solo in its marijuana policy
Several Southern Nevada casino companies aren’t following Caesars Entertainment’s lead on marijuana testing.
How much is the Lucky Dragon worth?
Less than a year-and-a-half after it opened, the Lucky Dragon was in bankruptcy.
Gyms and discount stores take over empty retail spaces
Grocery stores used to draw people to shopping centers. But many large retail spaces have been vacant since 2008. Discount stores like goodwill and gyms like EOS Fitness are filling those empty spaces, and helping to draw shoppers back in. K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Funding source of Las Vegas stadium for the Raiders is sound, expert says
The stadium is funded in part by $750 million of room taxes, the biggest such tax subsidy ever for a professional sports stadium. Robert Lang, executive director of Brookings Mountain West and The Lincy Institute at UNLV, says that is a good use of public funds. (Richard Velotta/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas needs light rail, expert says
Robert Lang, executive director of Brookings Mountain West and the Lincy Institute said he is afraid of a "congestion mobility crisis." Las Vegas needs a light rail system, he said, to accommodate the city's growing number of attractions. (Richard Velotta/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Three takeaways from Wynn Resorts' Earnings Call
Matt Maddox came out swinging in his first earnings conference call as Wynn Resorts chief executive officer, boasting of record Las Vegas quarterly revenues and applicants lining up for work.
Star Wars VR Comes to Las Vegas
Sneak peak at the new "Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire" VR experience at the Grand Canal Shoppes.
Elaine Wynn continues her fight to change Wynn Resorts board
Elaine Wynn, the largest shareholder of Wynn Resorts Ltd., is seeking to kick a friend of her ex-husband Steve Wynn off the company’s board of directors. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Zillow is getting into house flipping in Las Vegas
Las Vegas Review-Journal real estate reporter Eli Segall says flipping houses has waned in popularity after the housing bubble burst.
Ellis Island Buys Mt. Charleston Lodge
Ellis Island, which operates a casino, brewery and hotel just off the Strip, purchased the Mt. Charleston Lodge in early April.
Casinos to be penalized for allowing drug-impaired customers to gamble
Nevada Gaming Commission Chairman Tony Alamo talks about an amendment making casinos subject to the same disciplinary standards of preventing people to gamble if impaired by drugs as they are for letting them play while intoxicated by alcohol.
Terrible Herbst to open large travel center in Southern Nevada
The 50,000-square-foot commercial travel center will include 96 fuel pumps and the third White Castle restaurant in Southern Nevada. Wade Tyler Millward reports.
Art Bell’s Top 10 Shows
A selection of radio host Art Bell’s most popular shows.
Hooters owner talks about room upgrades at his hotel-casino
George Ruff, founder and senior principal of Trinity Hotel Investors L.L.C., owner of Hooters Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, talks about recent room upgrades at the hotel. K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Passengers Discuss Allegiant Air
Allegiant Air passengers voice their views on the airline at McCarran International Airport on April 16, 2018. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Longtime Las Vegas attorney John Momot dies at age 74
Criminal defense attorney John Momot, who represented mob figures and even played himself in the movie “Casino,” has died.
Trump Slams Amazon for Not Paying Enough in Taxes
Trump Slams Amazon for Not Paying Enough in Taxes Trump tweeted his concerns about the company on Thursday. This isn't the first time Trump commented on the issues via Twitter. August 2017 December 2017 Amazon did hold back on paying state taxes in 1995, but the company has been routinely collecting state sales taxes since then. In 2016, the company's report from the Securities and Exchange Commission confirmed it paid $412 million in taxes.
David Copperfield in court after man injured during magic trick
The attorney for a British man who is suing illusionist David Copperfield said his client suffered serious injuries after being called on stage during Copperfield's show at MGM Grand.
eyecandylab CEO shows augmented reality during NAB
Robin Sho Moser, CEO and co-founder of eyecandylab gives an augmented reality demonstration at his booth during the National Association of Broadcaster Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center. K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Trends in access to capital for local black business owners
Denette Braud, owner of Braud’s Funnel Cake Cafe, talks about what owning her own business means to her.
Sir Richard Branson announces purchase of Hard Rock Hotel
Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, has acquired the Hard Rock Hotel with partners and plans to turn it into a Virgin-branded property by the end of 2019.
Calvary Christian Learning Academy, “There was no fair warning.”
Samantha O’Brien, whose three-year-old daughter attended the Calvary Christian Learning Academy daycare, found out Monday night when her daughter’s teacher called about the school closing.
Adobe unveils #HackTheBracket application for March Madness
Adobe unveiled their #HackTheBracket application at the Adobe Summit trade show at Sands Expo. People can use data from Adobe Analytics to make their bracket for March Madness. K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Adidas Signs Yankees' Star Aaron Judge
Adidas Signs New York Yankees Star Aaron Judge The slugger is set to don a new set of stripes this season after signing with the apparel company. Aaron Judge Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The deal includes branding on his batting gloves and wristbands. Judge, the AL's reigning Rookie of the Year, was previously under contract with Under Armour since 2014. Judge won the American League Rookie of the Year award last season after setting an MLB record for most homers in a rookie season (52).
Esports athletes are sponsored, too
Meet Red Bull-sponsored professional esports player Daryl S. Lewis, better known by his in-game name Snake Eyez. Nicole Raz Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Bettor Investments turned into a bad bet
Bettor Investments formerly operated a Nevada-licensed entity betting operation. The company promised “conservative growth, profits and stability for our investors.” Matt Stuart, who ran the fund, shut it down in late 2016 and never made good on an agreement with shareholders.
Starbucks Will Give You $10 Million for a Better Cup Design
Starbucks Will Give You $10 Million for a Better Cup Design Get your thinking caps on because the company is looking for a new cup that's easier to recycle. The $10 million grant challenge sees Starbucks partnering with investor group Closed Loop Partners for the project. According to CNN Money, Aside from the new cup design challenge, Starbucks stated it will test a cup with an inner lining made from plant fibers to prevent hot liquid from leaking. Will you join the challenge for #Bettercups?
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like