Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Truth Is Out There

This article from the Billings Gazette is an important one.

It talks of a man, Bill Gates, who has extensive knowledge of Wal-Mart's effects on small towns because his job for 17 years was to set-up and manage new Wal-Mart stores.

But Gates is hardly a flack for Wal-Mart. He left the company because he didn't like the direction it took after Sam Walton's death. His comments to the Worland (WY) Women's Business Roundtable were not approved in advance by Wal-Mart, as the company requested. He spoke only as an "ex-employee interested in helping fellow business owners deal with the challenges ahead."

Here is a summary of Gates' presentation:

  • There are pros and cons to Wal-Mart coming to town. Some stores will likely see more business from increased local traffic, while others will have more competition. Well, in Pullman, the only stores that will even vaguely be in competion with Wal-Mart are SkopKo, Dissmores, and Safeway. Those are all national chain stores, so who really cares? Plus, those chains already compete in other markets with Wal-Mart Supercenters. They'll just mark down their prices 15-20%, and continue to do just fine.

  • Wal-Mart is more than willing to work with a community and give them what they want, but the community has to tell Wal-Mart what they want (and I might add in a nice way). Fighting Wal-Mart is a sure recipe for failure. As my grandmother used to say, you can catch more flies with sugar than with salt. This is the lesson Moscow never got. But luckily the Pullman City Council did.

  • The best way to compete against Wal-Mart is to carry items they don't and focus on customer service. This could apply to most every business in downtown Pullman, which tend to be niche type stores.

  • Wal-Mart brings a lot of people into town and existing businesses will benefit from that. TOWNS WITH A NEW WAL-MART CAN EXPECT A 15 PERCENT INCREASE IN BUSINESS. THAT'S ONE FIVE PERCENT. Is it any wonder that most businesses in Pullman support a Wal-Mart Supercenter in Pullman?

  • Wal-Mart can be tough on small town pharmacies. Again, no big deal for Pullman. There is only one even vaguely Mom-and-Pop pharmacy in town, Sid's Professional Pharmacy. And Sid's has great locations up by the hospita and a drive-thru on the north end of town. The other pharmacies are all national chains: ShopKo, Rite Aid, and Safeway.

  • 85 percent of workers hired by Wal-Mart will work full-time at a starting wage $2 AN HOUR HIGHER THAN THE MINIMUM WAGE, with benefits available after 180 days on the job. So much for PARD's lies.

  • Stores in smaller surrounding communities suffer the most when a new Wal-Mart opens. Businesses in the anchor town will see a drop in business for the first six to nine months, but sales will pick up after the newness factor wears off. Again, I think we're talking ShopKo, Dissmores and Safeway.

  • There's tons more evidence just like this out there. All any local reporter has to do is a little leg work to find out the truth, rather than simply parroting the proaganda and lies that PARD feeds them.

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