|Protest Against WalMart's Entry Into LA's Chinatown, June 30, 2012|
Since the news broke recently that WalMart will be introducing their Neighborhood Store model to the corner of Lincoln and Figueroa in Altadena, there have been debates pro and con raging on the local news blogs and on the street. I assume you know where we stand in the matter. Our opinion hasn't wavered since this blog's inception almost 5 years ago and won't waver now - I do not believe the addition of a WalMart store of any size will benefit this town.
WalMart Neighborhood Markets are a smaller-sized "localized grocery market" that inserts themselves into previously zoned, permitted and empty storefronts. I have seen Steven V. Restivo's, (WalMart's Senior Director of Community Affairs), piece on HufPo, dated June 29, 2012, which defends their decision to move into Los Angeles and its environs. In it, he starts out by maligning Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy's (LAANE) for their stance against a WalMart Neighborhood Market in Chinatown. He uses WalMart's tired old adage "after all, protests don't employ people, but new stores do."
|Good Jobs, Not WalMart Jobs|
I've heard that many people in the West Altadena area are eagerly awaiting this new WalMart. If that's the case, I haven't heard it from any of the people I know or come across on a daily basis that live in the vicinity. Quite contrary, in fact - the people I've talked to aren't looking forward to it at all. Many are worried about will happen to the other markets, like SuperKing and Baja Ranch - and rightly so. In Mr. Restivo's article, he states, "In these challenging economic times, private sector companies have a responsibility to work with local stakeholders in a given community to ensure residents and business both benefit. We're engaging with communities here to better understand the unique challenges they face and how our stores might play a role in the solution." Let me show you how a WalMart Neighborhood Market "engages with their communities" and would NOT benefit our ours:
In the study "The Impact of an Urban Wal-Mart Store on Area Businesses: An Evaluation of One Chicago Neighborhood’s Experience" (Research report prepared and published by the Center for Urban Research and Learning, Loyola University Chicago), a key finding is that the probability of going out of business during the study period (2006-2008) was significantly higher for establishments close to the Wal-Mart location. The basic sample followed 306 enterprises, 82 of which went out of business over the study period. It also states that "based on the estimated relationship between probability of store closings and proximity to Wal-Mart, the research team estimates that Wal-Mart’s opening has resulted in the loss of about 300 full-time equivalent jobs in its own and nearby zip codes." The study further states that "they suggest a loss about equal to Wal-Mart’s own addition to employment in the area. These estimates support the contention that large-city Wal-Marts absorb retail sales from other city stores without significantly expanding the market." *
"In addition to the surveys of West Side establishments, the research team obtained sales tax data from the Illinois Department of Revenue. These data from 2000 through 2008 are used to estimate quarterly taxable sales for the Wal-Mart zip code (60639) and neighboring zip codes. A trend analysis is performed for each zip code. In each case, the question is whether trends in sales changed after the Wal-Mart opening. For Wal-Mart’s own zip code, 60639, there is no evidence of an overall upturn in sales. Indeed, if the sample is limited to the six quarters (18 months) before and after Wal-Mart opened there is a significant decline in the trend of zip code sales. For this same period, zip code 60651, the closest neighbor to the Wal-Mart zip code, also shows a significant negative break-in-trend as does zip code 60622."
|Friday, June 29th Save Altadena meeting at WS - photo courtesy of Altadenablog|
Both of these findings seem to conflict with Mr. Restivo's statement of "communities always prefer a vibrant storefront over an abandoned building and our stores will generate tax revenue for the city and county while also serving as a magnet for growth and development in each community. From restaurants, salons, banks, and florists to bookstores, specialty grocers and wine & spirits shops, there are dozens of small business categories that typically surround our stores." Find out what happens when a WalMart does come to town here in the Business News Daily article, and check out this map on anticipated WalMart Neighborhood Market openings across Los Angeles County:
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*WalMart Neighborhood Markets' concept was introduced in Arkansas in 1998 and as of May 2012 there are 199 WNMs across the country. The studies referenced in this post were conducted in Chicago's Westside.
As always, we appreciate your readership - have a great week ahead, my friends!
Lori and Scott