By Tom McDonoughPosted May 02, 2018 12:07AMALTON, Idaho (Reuters) – Wyoming’s second-largest farmer will close his first store in nearly four decades on Saturday, as he tries to help the struggling business rebound after the closure of his first shop.
Yards-to-store sales at Walden’s Farm Market in Alton fell by almost 40 percent in the fourth quarter of 2018 as more customers left the state’s second largest agribusiness, which was hit hard by the drought.
A state audit found Walden had a record-high $11 million debt.
The company said it would lay off more than 700 workers and would spend $1.5 million to address those challenges.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc’s (WMT.
N) biggest store in the state is in nearby Grand Forks, where it has a store with the name of Walden Farm Market.
The Walden store was one of the last remaining local stores to open after the state shuttered its first one in 2009.
Walmart said it was offering to help with costs of the closure, which is expected to be completed by the end of May.
A spokesman said the company would work with Walden to ensure the business can resume operations.
WalMart has more than 30 stores in the United States, with more than 1,500 in Wyoming, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
The company has more stores in Wyoming than in any other state.
The store closures were part of a nationwide push by Walmart to boost profitability.
It is also trying to make the state more attractive to foreign shoppers and businesses, where Wyoming has a high level of foreign direct investment.
Wyoming’s drought has cut sales at other retailers in the region, which has struggled with a shortage of water and other natural resources.
Walter and Wendy Wetzler, owners of Waldens farm store, sit in the middle of a field at the Walden farm market in Almont, Idaho, April 29, 2019.