Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Say What?

Regarding Moscow's experience with Wal-Mart [Pullman Mayor Glenn] Johnson says, "everybody else has co-existed over there." Oh really? K-Mart didn't last long. The Emporium moved into the space that Penny's created when they left and now the Emporium is gone, leaving a major hole in the Palouse Mall (along with other mall vacancies) Winco took K-Mart's space but that did in Tidyman's. Many downtown businesses such as Myklebusts and Ken's Stationery have closed.
- Tri-State owner Gerard Connelly, "HIS VIEW: Mayor's reaction to Wal-Mart naive," Moscow-Pullman Daily News, December 16, 2004
Connelly said sales at the Tri-State in Moscow jumped 43 percent the first year Wal-Mart built its store.
- David Cole, "Experts offer Wal-Mart survival tips; When Clarkston gets a super center, other retailers may need to re-evaluate their methods," Lewiston Tribune, May 6, 2008

Gerard "The Man of a Thousand Faces" Connelly's position on Wal-Mart seems to change with regard to both the audience to whom he is speaking and the proximity of one of his stores to Wal-Mart. It does make for entertaining reading.

I'm wondering, however, why Clarkston needed a forum on Wal-Mart. There's already a Wal-Mart in the L-C Valley, as well as big boxes Costco, Home Depot, K-Mart and ShopKo and mini-box "category killers" Pier One Imports, Famous Footwear, Petco, Eddie Bauer, and Ross.

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Tom Forbes said...

Allow me to completely debunk the allegations about other Moscow stores that Connelly made in his 2004 column. I'm sure Connelly knows all this, so I can only assume was gratuitously exaggerating to enhance his case against a Pullman Wal-Mart.

The Wal-Mart in Moscow had nothing to with the closures of any of the stores Connelly mentioned.

K-Mart: In 1994, K-Mart closed 110 stores. Unlike its competitors Wal-Mart and Target, it failed to invest in computer technology to manage its supply chain. Furthermore, K-Mart maintained a high dividend, which reduced the amount of money available for improving its stores. Many business analysts also faulted the corporation for failing to create a coherent brand image.

The Emporium: In 2002, Troutman's Emporium filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company first planned to close one store but found themselves in more debt than expected. The then the Troutman's Emporium announced it was closing all 34 stores and was going out of business. The company was liquidated, out of their headquarters, and merged out of bankruptcy by 2004. When the closure was announced, the store had 34 stores in five states employing 1,600 people.

Tidyman's: In 2004, Tidyman's announced it would close a half-dozen of its less-profitable stores including Tidyman's and County Market stores in Spokane, Washington, Moscow, Idaho, Lewiston, Idaho, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, Missoula, Montana, Helena, Montana, and Great Falls, Montana.

In July 2006, Tidyman's announced it would sell its remaining stores and call it quits. Dissmore's IGA was sold to McGregor's LLC, 1 store in Sidney, Montana was sold to Buttes and Bluffs Markets, 3 stores were sold to URM Stores, and the other 3 were closed.

Myklebust's: In 2005, Ray Myklebust passed away. His son Rod, who owned and operated Myklebust's for 30 years, heeded a calling to the ministry. Rod & Nancy handed the torch to their long time friends Vern & Veronica Edgerly, owners of Classic Dry Cleaning in Lewiston, ID. They moved the store to Lewiston.

Ken's Stationery: Office Depot and Staples chose to open in Moscow.

April E. Coggins said...

Ken's Stationery in Pullman burned down during the Corner Drug fire. That loss had a direct impact on the viability of the Moscow store.

Will G said...

It always amazes me when people want to blame Tidyman's closure on something other than Tidyman's own change of business plan. I remember shopping with my mom at Tidyman's and we would use a grease pencil to price the food and then we would bag it ourselves after checkout. It was a low cost food store. Their customer base was the discount grocery shopper. They made a decision to become a high end grocery store and needless to say a large portion of their customer base chose not to follow. Most of them now shop at Winco. Someone at Tidyman's was very ignorant as to who their customer base was and they shot themselves in the foot.

Satanic Mechanic said...

Willg is correct. I too remember Warehouse Foods, which became Tidyman's, the grease pencil, plus the boxes and the hand trolley to load the boxes. In the early 90's Tidayman's became an elitist-yuppie-organic food store with high prices. They put themselves out of business.

Tom Forbes said...

It seems obvious to us rational folks that customers cause businesses to close, not Wal-Mart. But no one ever said leftists were rational.

I'm sure April can tell us that businesses who give the customers what the want succeed and those that don't fail. And many more businesses fail than succeed because we consumers are a fickle bunch. Styles change, tastes change, technology changes, etc. Just ask the former owners of horse tack stores and TV and radio repair shops.

It's not right. It's not wrong. It is what it is. Business is brutally competitive with more losers than winners. You make a slight mistake, you may lose your shirt. The socialists with their desire for equal outcomes will never understand it.

Connelly isn't stupid. His business has been successful, so he obviously understands these truths. The Trib article today revealed why he plays the role of the ignorant Wal-Mart hater. Tri-State in Moscow increased its sales 43% the first year Wal-Mart was open. How much will Tri-State's sales go down when the Wal-Mart in Moscow closes when the one in Pullman opens?

I understand his actions, but I don't condone them.