No News Is Good News?

walmart_storefrontIf it’s been quiet here at No Mount Orab Wal-Mart that may be a good thing. It’s difficult to know what is happening in light of the global economic meltdown, especially concerning the capital building programs of major companies.

Wal-Mart has announced elsewhere that it is scaling back its expansion plans. Several planned Supercenters have been scrapped. In fact, I have heard through the grapevine that the entire Supercenter idea may be in jeopardy, as WalMart’s grocery sections are underperforming.

Here’s what I do know:

The site supposedly zoned for the Mount Orab Wal-Mart has seen zero activity since the initial flurry of tree cutting back in late 2007. In fact, the section of trees that was supposed to be removed by mid-2008 still stands.

The local newspapers have said little about the project in the wake of the October 2007 announcement.

Kroger announced a Marketplace store for the area, which would make the Wal-Mart overkill for the size of Mount Orab.

The housing market implosion curtailed all new homebuilding. Existing building projects, save for the medical center, have stalled. Perhaps the great move east for disaffected Cincinnatians will not materialize, throwing off demographic analysis for Brown County and environs.

No matter what the issue, the lack of activity and news on the planned Wal-Mart is curious. Maybe, for those of us against the building of a new Wal-Mart in Mount Orab, that’s good news.

No Wal-Mart? Well, We Can Always Hope…

According to the Wednesday, June 18 edition of The Wall Street Journal, Wal-Mart announced it will be scaling back the number of stores it opens in the next few years, chopping more than a billion dollars in capital expenditures in 2009 alone.

The Journal also notes the following:

Critics have questioned the benefit of Wal-Mart supercenters on local communities, particularly small towns with mom-and-pop stores that are often forced out of business when a Wal-Mart store opens in the area.

Yeah, exactly.

Plans for Kroger, a local company that keeps jobs and money in the Greater Cincinnati area (unlike Wal-Mart), include a new Marketplace center that would fulfill any perceived need for access to a wider range of goods. We can only hope that Wal-Mart decides to take the retail fight elsewhere.

Wal-Mart Doesn’t Care About You

If you’ve lived long enough, you remember when Wal-Mart hung banners in their stores trumpeting the numbers of American jobs Wal-Mart helped preserve by buying American-made products.

When was the last time you saw those banners?

The answer to that question comes down to the death of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton in 1992. While Walton may have been a shrewd businessman who was always seeking the lowest cost, Walton still believed in America. Sadly, Walton had not been dead for more than a year when the “American-made” banners started falling from the rafters of his stores.

What that meant for America cannot be underestimated. Wal-Mart’s growth was largely fueled from the demise or destruction of American companies forced to compete against Communist China in the race to the pricing bottom. Wal-Mart Doesn’t Care About YouSam Walton once said, “Each Wal-Mart store should reflect the values of its customers and support the vision they hold for their community.” I’m certain that he did not intend that community to be Shanghai, yet building China at the expense of America appears to be the corporate vision for Wal-Mart today

This has been devastating for Ohio and for our local area.

Wal-Mart’s abandoning of American-made goods for Asian resulted in the gutting or outright demise of some well-known Ohio companies, notably Huffy Bicycles and Ohio Arts (the makers of Etch-a-Sketch). Wal-Mart’s race to the bottom took away hundreds, if not thousands, of well-paying Ohio jobs. Worse, it forced other companies to adopt the same abandonment of America. This has led to rapid growth in Asia, but stagnation and malaise here at home. Local and regional companies suffer—and we suffer along with them. Is our state better for any of this?

Wal-Mart is not a local company. It does business with very few companies in our area. Wal-Mart does not support us. Money they make goes to their headquarters in Arkansas and to their suppliers in China, money siphoned out of our local economy.

On the other hand, we do have Kroger in town that DOES support our local economy. Kroger is a Cincinnati-based company. Beyond the clerks and workers in our local store, Kroger employs thousands locally in other sources outside that store. Kroger supports regional farmers, too. And, as opposed to Wal-Mart, Kroger is a union shop that believes in fair wages.

I don’t work for Kroger. All I do is shop there. I believe that’s worth doing because Kroger impacts our region in positive ways that Wal-Mart does not. That keeps our region strong. It also prevents another regional company from going the way of Huffy, Ohio Arts, and companies like them that once employed Ohioans in good jobs, but now employee Communist Chinese workers in less-than-ideal ones.

What is best for our town and our county is to stimulate local and regional businesses, companies that are homegrown. If anything, Wal-Mart comes to town and puts those kinds of companies out of business so you can save a few pennies. And you’ll need those pennies, too, considering that it was your company Wal-Mart put out of business. Goodbye, mom and pop.

Wise people are beginning to understand the need to forgo big-box, global companies in favor of local and regional ones. For us to welcome Wal-Mart to town is to run counter to the new wisdom. In truth, that “new” wisdom is really the old wisdom that made this country great, not the false wisdom of globalization and the destruction of local economies. To continue to foster economic goals that hurt our region and our country at a time when people are wising up to the harm this does is to show us as little more than uneducated pawns in Wal-Mart’s conquering of the world.

America can do better. And so can our community by saying no to Wal-Mart.