FAIRFIELD, Ala. (WIAT) — After years of serving as a reminder of the city’s struggles, the old Super Walmart in Fairfield will soon have a new owner.
Dansby Foods, a grocery store owned by former Auburn football star Karlos Dansby, will announce in a press conference today at noon that it is purchasing the facility to use for a grocery store and food distribution center. For longtime residents who have seen the city’s recent financial struggles, it’s a sign of hope.
“This is great to be able to see that we’re getting something of this magnitude and the significance of a partnership with somebody like Karlos Dansby that can see the value in our community,” lifelong Fairfield resident Eric Major said.
The Super Walmart closed in 2016, and the city has been in a “downward spiral” ever since, according to Major. Fairfield mayor Eddie Penny said it created a ripple effect that led to other problems in the city, which ultimately filed for bankruptcy. But he believes the addition of Dansby Foods will create a ripple effect in the opposite direction, helping solve many of the city’s problems, including the lack of grocery options.
“So having something locally that they can get access to is just tremendous,” Penny said. “Fresh produce and then essential foods is just very important to the community.”
It also will bring back much of the sales tax base that was lost with the departure of Super Walmart, which Penny says made up nearly 40% of the city’s sales tax base when it was open. The new food center will bring an estimated 200 jobs to the area, and Penny believes it will help nearby businesses and attract more businesses in the future.
Major says the addition of the store is welcome news to a community that’s suffered through too many stories about businesses leaving over the last few years.
“I’ve seen it in its good day, and I’ve seen it in some of its bad,” Major said of his hometown. “And I see it now being on an upward spiral. I really think some great things can happen from just this spark. This is going to be the spark that reignites Fairfield.”