Incoming Walmart stirs negative public opinion


“Save money. Live better.” More like save money and live with local congestion. The city of West Linn announced the building permits for a new Walmart grocery store. It will occupy the currently empty anchor store at the Robinwood Shopping Center.

When I noticed that the previous market, Bales, was gone and empty for quite a long time, I figured another large market would replace it. But when I heard the news of a Walmart coming in, my first reaction was, “What?!”

The foremost problem with a Walmart arriving to the small town like West Linn is traffic. I’ve seen the growing populations in parking lots at various Walmarts and; it’s not good. It’s crazy, hectic and by the time you enter the store you’re probably already fired up because some unfair driver took your spot before you. Considering the small amount of parking space in the Robinwood Shopping Center, the possible outcomes will not be pretty. West Linn has kept its peace amongst shoppers and I’d like it to keep it that way.

Furthermore—bringing a Walmart, the #1 retail store in America (according to the New York Job Source), to West Linn could have a disastrous effect on local competitors. We already have a Safeway, Market of Choice and an Albertsons. The worry is that Walmart could negatively impact our local businesses.

Walmart’s unbeatable prices are the reason why shoppers prefer buy groceries there. Well, what if “good business” isn’t enough? What if the other competitors are doing better than Walmart anticipated? This is when Walmart will lower its prices below the competitions’ costs until their competition is forced to close down, and then Walmart will once again increase its prices.

“I think, or more appropriately, hope that it will foster some competition with the other local retail stores in reigning in what I feel to be excessive price increases in produce and meat,” Paul Kennard, parent of Emma Kennard, said.

As of 2009, a 32 oz. container of cottage cheese is $4.49 at Safeway and $3.88 with an in-ad coupon at Albertsons, where as it Walmart, sells for $2.08. We have a firm grasp of the obvious: Walmart is cheap.

Personally, I don’t shop at Walmart. I have Safeway up the hill and Market of Choice down the hill. Safeway has been my local food provider for the past eight years that I’ve been living in West Linn and I don’t plan on changing.

If Safeway, Market of Choice or Albertsons fails to keep up with the on-the-go demand that customers want and receive from Walmart, I won’t be surprised. It’s highly possible that Walmart will kick the boot on our three grocery stores, even as a condensed “market” size.

A study at Loyola University showed that the impact of Walmart stores on a local business corresponds to its distance from that certain store. Another study showed that when a Walmart opens in a new market, median sales drop 40pecent at similar sized stores, 17percent at supermarkets and 6percent at drugstores.

That is why this Walmart should not come to West Linn. Safeway, Market of Choice and Albertsons are sufficient to supply this town’s customers and I would not want Walmart to burst in and say, “Hey! I matter more! I give more—I give more for LESS!” That may be true, Walmart, but West Linn can’t afford the costs.

Not only is Walmart involved in competitive predation, but also in some questionable employee practices. Walmart has been subject to criticism by individuals and groups, including labor unions, community groups, grassroots organizations, religious organizations, environmental groups and Walmart customers.

The activist group, Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economoy (LAANE), said, “in 2006, Walmart reports that full time hourly associates received, on average, $10.11 an hour.” LAANE then further calculated that working for 34 hours a week an employees earn $17,874 per year, which is about 20 percent less than the average retail worker.

Because of this, it pushes more pressure on the workers. There has also been issues involved with lawsuits about denied overtime wages and not being able to take rests/breaks and lunches. If I was an employee at Walmart and worked under these conditions, I’d quit.

With the effects of Walmart crystal clear, the opening of this Walmart will have more than just an impact on traffic—wages and predatory pricing will also prey on the community. When Walmart opens, I won’t be doing any shopping there. I commit to Safeway, Market of Choice and Albertsons. If other customers feel the same way as I do about this Walmart, they will patronize the businesses that have already proven their worth in our community.