It's that time of year again.
Several new businesses are opening up in Thomson this month. A new Krystal restaurant is slated to open near I-20, while a new Dollar General store has opened across the street from Kent's Restaurant on Hill Street.
Not to be forgotten is a Dollar Tree store openedin September in the Wal-Mart shopping center.
All of these moves are taking place despite a concerted effort by the Thomson Chamber of Commerce to have more businesses downtown.
"We would love to get some more businesses downtown," chamber director Carolyn Gilbert said.
The chamber will get their wish, as plans have been approved to begin construction on a Huddle House restaurant that could be completed by mid-March.
Otherwise, businesses seem to be gravitating toward the interstate for one reason: Wal-Mart.
"Anything you put anything next to Wal-Mart, it's gonna go. It's going to be successful," Ms. Gilbert said. "That strip mall is brand new, and they're just filling that up right now."
Planning Commission Director Fred Guerrant isn't surprised.
"My understanding is that the Wyatt Development out of Aiken specializes in locating these strip centers next to Wal-Mart," he said. "You'll find just about the same tenants in every strip shopping center."
Additionally, Movie Gallery has moved from its previous location in the Bi-Lo shopping center across the street to its own free-standing building.
"We just found a new place," manager Britney Aycock said. Mr. Guerrant also added that the Movie Gallery "wanted to be in a standalone building and move out of the leased area of the Bi-Lo shopping center. I think they also wanted to be on a main thoroughfare."
Though the Bi-Lo shopping center may appear old and deserted compared to the brand new Wal-Mart shopping center, it's very much alive. A Sears catalog store recently opened and is located next to The Athlete's Foot.
Shoppers don't seem to mind either: They stressed the convenience of shopping in the Bi-Lo shopping center.
"I still shop here (in the Bi-Lo center). I get my prescriptions filled at CVS because I don't like to park at Wal-Mart. It takes too long," said Susanna Watson of Thomson.
Fred Baker of Warrenton said, "I don't really care. I do my shopping at Bi-Lo. I don't really care what the shopping center looks like. This one's easier to get to anyways."
* New year means big changes for McDuffie County
* New businesses have come to the county
* Three sporting goods stores compete for business
* Augusta Tech's Thomson Campus opens Monday
* McDuffie County's Animal Shelter is a furry success
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