Walmart stores in the southeast Missouri towns of Piedmont and Caruthersville are scheduled to close their doors early next year. Employees were told about the decision last week.

Piedmont is in rural Wayne County. Piedmont Mayor Bill Kirkpatrick tells Missourinet Farmington affiliate KREI that this will create a hardship in his community.

“Preliminary numbers say that Walmart contributes about 30 percent of our gross sales tax revenue. Well this not only puts a hardship on the city, our budgeting, but others that do the shopping and have come to rely on all the products that Walmart has,” Kirkpatrick says.

Mayor Kirkpatrick tells KREI that he and other Wayne County officials have been in contact with Walmart executives in Arkansas to try to reverse the decision.

“Conversations are good. Whether they’ve come around to see things the way we’d like to have them, I don’t know about that. The residents, you know, they’re trying very hard as well. City, state and U.S. government officials are trying to help us,” Kirkpatrick says.

Townspeople and residents in both communities are collecting signatures to try to save the stores, which are scheduled to close in January.

The “Southeast Missourian” reports the Caruthersville Walmart, which opened in 1977, currently employs 85 people. The newspaper says the Piedmont store, which opened in 1980, employs 75.

Walmart is seeking transfer opportunities for those employees who want to continue with the company.