Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Support Local Business? Then Support Wal-Mart

A year and a half ago, I wrote about a Wal-Mart Supercenter that was planned for Eagle Point, OR. That store has since opened. The results? According to the Medford Mail Tribune, it's going exactly as a rational person would have predicted, much less any economist.
"We want to set the record straight about any miscommunications or mistruths and say that, no, we are not closing that Ray's," Nidiffer said. "In fact, we are pretty excited about the opportunities of that store and have been making significant changes to the product offerings and the physical layout even in the face of the competition going in across the street."

To combat the 184,718-square-foot big box store's promise of a full line of groceries, C&K is more than tripling the store's lines of natural, organic and gourmet items. More than 1,000 Southern Oregon wines will be featured, as will many other locally produced products.

"We're playing a little higher-end card and we're about halfway done with the project," Nidiffer said. "We feel like we can do a better job with local farmers, local wineries, smaller producers that aren't big enough for Wal-Mart to touch, quite frankly."

Shady Cove business owner Cindy Glaspell said her business will flourish thanks to the new Wal-Mart. As proprietress of the Shady Cove Station & Country Store and the Subway sandwich shop, Glaspell said she shops at the Medford Wal-Mart for provisions.

"I shop there for cookies and crackers and whatever else I can find for my store and this will be more convenient," said Glaspell. "I'm in (the Medford Wal-Mart) enough to want a bigger and nicer and cleaner store, which I'm sure this one is going to be."

Although Glaspell said the new supercenter might hurt Shady Cove's local pharmacy and Eagle Point grocery stores, she doesn't believe it will lead to any local loss of businesses.

"People who went to Wal-Mart for their prescriptions before will still go there — it's a matter of loyalty and routine," said the 25-year resident of Shady Cove. "But we're more of a tourist town and I don't think tourists are going to dip into Wal-mart; they're still going to shop here."

Shady Cove Mayor Ruth Keith agreed, pointing to the 10 miles between her destination town and the Wal-Mart.

"Most people drive to Medford for their staples anyway but if you just want to run out for a loaf of bread, you're still going to run down to our local market," said Keith.
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