Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Thursday, May 24, 2007

"Retail requires 'vastly more space'"

Nice to hear from Don Pelton again in today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
The Pullman Alliance for Responsible Development bases much of its anti-Wal-Mart rhetoric on the planned size of the Pullman store. PARD refers to Wal-Mart's about 225,000 square feet as an "ugly behemoth box" unfit for our small community. I have done some analysis of Pullman's future Wal-Mart in relationship to other businesses.

For example, the 1930s size of Dissmore's Grocery Store which was then located along Main Street was about the equivalent of the space now occupied by Bella Dolce Cafe, or about 2,500 square feet. The present Dissmore's on North Grand Avenue measures about 45,000 square feet plus more than 200 parking spaces. Thus, this one big box just for food-related products plus a pharmacy is about one-fifth the size of the new Wal-Mart. But, Wal-Mart is a department store with at least 22 additional departments plus food and drugs. Wal-Mart follows the model of a Macy's or a Target store as a marketing device.

In the 1930s Dissmore's was but one of six grocery stores downtown. Today, there are still six grocery stores downtown. They are: Chevron Food Mart, beverages and snacks; Baskin-Robbins ice cream; the International Store, imports; the Nutrition Store, food supplements; Lick's Unlimited, candy; and The Old Post Office, wine and cheese. The products of these wonderful food specialty shops are each given but a partial aisle in big-box Dissmore's.

The point is retailing has changed so much that it requires vastly more space to satisfy our wants compared to PARD's naive model of small shops.

Did you know that in 1960 there were five new-car dealerships and two department stores in downtown Pullman? That is another letter.

Don Pelton, Pullman
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