Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Friday, February 10, 2006

"The Little Group That Couldn't"

From a column by James Reavis in today's Daily Evergreen called "The little city that could".
Wal-Mart, often viewed as the retail giant behemoth, is trying to build a Supercenter here in Pullman. Rather than welcoming the business as part of a growing and developing town, several people have mobilized to keep the business from establishing itself. These organizations have been petitioning the local government to not allow them to establish here. I disagree with this tactic.

Since the slightest appearance of favoring socialism makes people scream “Communist!” America is a firm capitalist, open-market economy. For the economy to work well, everyone needs to play by the same rules. Everyone should have the same opportunity to open a store, big and small businesses alike. There are plenty of reasons to oppose Wal-Mart: According to the watchdog group Wal-Mart Watch, they are horrible at providing health insurance, and they pay their women significantly less than their men. These are good reasons to protest the expansion of Wal-Mart.

The protestors’ efforts would go much further if they, rather than block the opening of a Wal-Mart, do everything they can to put them out of business.

Encourage people to shop at local Pullman businesses. Offer new products and improve the quality of products you already have. Maintain that great customer service that keeps people coming back. Don’t want to buy Wal-Mart khakis? Shop somewhere else, or better yet, encourage more businesses to come to Pullman and open up stores to compete with Wal-Mart. Everybody wins.

The best thing the opponents of Wal-Mart can do is to improve the culture of the community. The lentils in Pullman are like the focaccia in Altamura, they can’t be replaced by an outsider corporate giant.

Let Wal-Mart come in, and let the citizens of Pullman make up their own mind.
Bravo!!!! Couldn't have said it better myself.

Mr. Reavis, however, should expand his horizons beyond Wal-Mart Watch, the union-funded lie factory, if he is looking for reasons to protest Wal-Mart.

And while I support his call for people to shop at local Pullman businesses, there really aren't that many in the context he uses. You're not going to buy many food products or khakis in Pullman without shopping at a national chain grocery or retail store. And any business that comes to Pullman and opens up a store to compete with Wal-Mart is going to be an "outsider corporate giant" as well. The days of the "Mom-and-Pop" grocery or large retail store are long gone, although many in Pullman still seem to cling to that belief. That's not to say we don't have a vibrant local business community. We do. They run restaurants, coffee shops, antique stores, clothing boutiques, craft stores, auto parts stores, motorcycle shops, bike shops, etc., etc. They have a niche to fill, along with the large retailers. It can and should be a symbiotic relationship. Wal-Mart and the other large-format retail stores will turn Pullman into a shopping destination once again. Residents will stay home and new customers will come. The added traffic will benefit the "local" stores the most, as they currently are the ones suffering from the leakage of sales to Moscow and other places.

It's a pity that PARD will never follow Reavis's advice. The reason they are trying to stop Wal-Mart is because they know once it is open, it will be a huge success. Petitions, focaccia bread, and lentil chili notwithstanding, students and others will flock there by the thousands. Wal-Mart knows how to give its customers what they want. There's no chance it will be put out of business. That's why PARD favors the "dictatorship of the proletariat". The bourgeoisie just can't be trusted.

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1 comment:

April E. Coggins said...

My business dream is to be the Wal-Mart of the motorcycle industry. It is discouraging to realize that some people want regulate how big I can become.