Sunday, December 13, 2009

Wal-Mart Supercenter and This Town's Businesses

A sign near the old location of Main Street Printing (they're in better quarters now, downtown, near the movie theater) reminded me of the "crisis" of Wal-Mart moving into town, in the spring of 2007. (Sauk Centre Journal archive, April 18, 2007)

Around that time someone I knew found out that I wasn't appalled and aghast that a major employer was building here. She asked me, rather fervently, if I didn't care if my town was destroyed.

"Destroyed" must mean different things to different people. New houses have been built since spring of 2007, when the Wal-Mart supercenter opened. The face of local businesses has changed, it's true. We now have an Ace Hardware store. It had been a few years since we'd had any hardware store in town - although Fleet Supply and Wal-Mart had (and have) pretty good hardware departments. (Sauk Centre Journal archive, January 7, 2009) And, Fleet Supply added more floorspace to its store in town.

If that's being "destroyed," I can live with it.

Retail land available in south Sauk Centre, near the Wal-Mart superstore. December 7, 2009.

What my friend had in mind, of course, was the utter and total devastation of all those mom-and-pop businesses that (presumably) are driven out of business when the big bad big-box store comes in.

I didn't see how that would happen here. We didn't have any low-end discount department stores in town, there hadn't been a hardware store here for years, and apart from repair shops and restaurants, there's not much else that is even close to being in direct competition with Wal-Mart.

The repair shops are, as far as I can tell, mostly still doing okay. I'm not surprised: they've been around for a while, and take pretty good care of their customers. (A 'shout out' for Flowers, on the north side - that's where this family takes our vehicles.)

On the other hand, with a Wal-Mart supercenter in town, folks come in off the interstate to shop there. Some of them fill their tanks (elsewhere), shop (elsewhere), catch a movie, and eat somewhere besides the in-house Subway. The Subway franchise on Main was there before Wal-Mart moved in, and still is.

We do have a department store downtown: Meads. It's a nice place, with a clientele who probably never go to Wal-Marts, or any other discount outfit.

My household? We shop at Wal-Mart. Like I said, Meads is nice - but generally out of our price range. Yep, we're a bunch of 'those people.'

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for leaving a comment!