WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. — Family Dollar will be closing its nearly 30-year-old West Memphis warehouse in 60 days, a company spokesperson said Wednesday.
On February 18, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that more than 1,000 rats were found inside the distribution facility. The chain then issued a voluntary recall that impacted over 400 stores in the South.
According to West Memphis Mayor Marco McClendon, around 230 employees at the facility will lose their jobs.
"We've been scrambling and working at City Hall," McClendon said at a press conference Wednesday. "We've reached out to the state, and they have offered all available resources to help us help those affected. We've reached out to the director of workforce services and they have set some things up to help those people immediately."
McClendon said the company notified the city of their decision after determining that the nearly 30-year-old facility no longer suited their needs.
"I was surprised," McClendon said. "I would have preferred talking to someone first about this issue. The city has been industrial friendly. We always call and meet with different industries to ask what we can do to help."
Inspection reports showed the building had violations related to rat infestations going back to January 2021, over a year before the infestation was announced and several stores closed.
A spokesperson with Family Dollar shared the following statement:
"Like most companies, we regularly assess our operational footprint to ensure we are running our business in the most effective and responsible way. As a result of that process, we determined the nearly 30-year-old facility in West Memphis would not be adequate to allow us to continue serving the needs and requirements of our stores and customers served by the distribution center.
This was a difficult decision we did not take lightly, especially because of our outstanding team in West Memphis, our relationship with the community, and the partnership we have had with the State of Arkansas since 1994. We are committed to treating impacted associates fairly and respectfully, and we are doing everything we can to support them with their transitions, including providing severance plans to those who are eligible, as well as offering outplacement services and employee assistance programs."
Randy Guiler, vice president of investor relations for Dollar Tree, Family Dollar's parent company, told the Associated Press the company is offering severance to eligible employees, as well as outplacement and employee assistance programs. The building will discontinue shipping to stores before the end of June, and a transfer of inventory to other distribution centers will be completed in August.
The announcement of the warehouse’s closure comes weeks after the state filed a lawsuit against Family Dollar and Dollar Tree. The lawsuit, filed by Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, accuses the companies of deceiving consumers, negligence and engaging in a conspiracy that allowed the infestation to occur.
“Family Dollar is punishing hundreds of hardworking Arkansas families instead of cleaning up the company's own, illegal business practices that put their employees and consumers at risk," Rutledge said in a statement Wednesday. “Family Dollar should eliminate deceptive and dangerous conduct."
The Associated Press contributed to this story.