Over the last three decades, Pam Akers has made friends in Welch, from her workplace at city hall to her local Magic Mart.
“When you have a friend here, you have a friend for life,” Akers said. “They’re just wonderful people. I’ve just loved it ever since I’ve lived here.”
When the news broke that it will be closing for good, it was absolute devastation for Akers.
“It broke our heart,” Akers said. “Each community is affected by that, because their employees are a part of the community. If they don’t have a place to work, they have to move on… to other places where they will be able to work.”
The pain did not stop with the job loss. The forthcoming shutdown also removes one less option for Welch and other McDowell County shoppers to check off their grocery list.
“Dollar General and Family Dollar are going to have things,” Akers said. “But they’re not going to have the things that Magic Mart would’ve had.”
Angela Pelkey, who lives in Kimball, stressed making the trip might be too hard for some of her neighbors to handle.
“Now, you have to go all the way to Bluefield, to Walmart,” Pelkey said. “Not everybody has the gasoline to do that, or even the transporation to get up there.”
While anxiously waiting to see what is next, Akers believed she and her friends will stand strong.
“We’re not going down and we never will go down,” Akers said. “Because that’s who we are.”
Magic Mart plans to close all of its remaining stores, including the Welch location on U.S. 52, by November.