MT. VERNON, Mo. -

The folks at Hometown Pharmacy have friendly service down to a fine art.

“I think they like having service by people that know them and see in their communities," said owner Gail Vaughn.  “We are an independent pharmacy; we support that community.”

In this community, construction is underway on a big new source of competition.  A new Walmart Supercenter store is being built on Business Loop I-44 near the intersection with Missouri 39.

“I think most of us are competing with Walmart already; it is just in a different town,” Vaughn said.  “We have three different [neighboring] towns you can go to try and hit a Walmart.”

“When our citizens go out of town to buy groceries or clothing, shoes, or whatever, they are in essence paving somebody else’s streets. So, we would like to see those tax dollars come back,” said City Administrator Max Springer.

Construction on the new store is progressing, and the outer walls are already in place.

In previous years, Walmart had told city leaders their town just wasn’t big enough to support a Supercenter.  Since then, however, the company has started rolling out a new kind of store.  It’s a scaled-down version for smaller towns such as Mt. Vernon.

“Walmart will be one of the bigger employers,” Springer said.  “We think the addition of 200 jobs is going to be wonderful for our town.”

Springer explained the Mt. Vernon store will include around 70,000 square feet of space, which is around half the size of many regular Supercenter stores.

Many neighborhoods and communities across the nation have fought to keep Walmart from coming in, but that’s not so much the case here.  There has been no vocal or organized opposition movement in regard to the store.

“I know there are conflicting thoughts on whether it will hurt the community or help,” said Vaughn.

Vaughn says she is not anti-Walmart, but she sees some people’s concerns.

“As far as the small businesses, I hope that everyone sees that there are some really great business owners in this town that really contribute,” she said.

City leaders say there may not be an issue here since most of the locally owned stores are long gone.

“The retail just kind of went away. We have a lot of people spending money outside of town, which we would like to see that money brought back into town,” said Springer.

Springer said the Walmart likely will open sometime this coming fall, just in time for the Christmas shopping season.