Friday, March 03, 2006


There has been so much anti Wal-Mart hysteria going around I decided to re-read the many articles that have been published lately to see if I've missed something akin to the war in Iraq.

The most reasoned of the articles appeared in the Sunday, February 26 Spokesman by Jan Quintrall. It was entitled "Upset at Wal-Mart? Take a closer look". Ms. Quintrall is president of the Better Business Bureau that serves eastern Washington, northern Idaho and Montana. She explained quite clearly how the market place sets the bar on salaries, how Wal-Mart is not alone on the health care issue and, basically, the criteria Wal-Mart uses for site selection. They study the demographics.

Wal-Mart now owns the 18 acres on the corner of Honeysuckle and U.S. 95; eighteen acres of prime commercial property. Do you think for one minute if Wal-Mart had not bought the parcel it would have not been sold to another similar enterprise that would pose the same issues of traffic, etc.?

It is interesting to me the people spearheading the resistance to Wal-Mart include Steve Meyer, co-owner of the Prairie Shopping Center and his in-laws, John and Helen Centa. Could there be a conflict of interest here?

That the traffic impact studies are out of date isn't Wal-Mart's fault. For that I'd look to the city of Hayden. The editorial in Wednesday's Spokesman urges proper planning for smart growth. This does not include ignoring comprehensive plans by our communities or the county. By the same token, the lack of review and updating of these plans shouldn't be twisted into a weapon against businesses trying to loc ate here. The area is growing far to quickly to be governed by reaction rather than anticipation.

Pullman pulled it together and laid out conditions that included making road improvements and adding traffic lights. Might such negotiation work here?

Hayden may feel the revenue generated by this store is of little importence to the city. I would find that difficult to believe. They should, too, consider this store is not just for the residents of Hayden. Consider Athol and Bayview, all inbetween and even beyond - mostly moderate and low income households. Hayden would be much more convenient than Post Falls. With gas prices such as they are, such considerations are important to families living on tight budgets.

What if the Rickel Ranch development goes through? You're looking at 1500 new homes across from Silverwood. One third of those homes, 500 of them, are to be categorized as "affordable" housing at approximately $125,000. Those are Wal-Mart shoppers, folks.

Be it this project or another, the growth will be moving up the U.S. 95 corridor and will be for moderate income families until the area's wage scales are increased. These aren't the people without financial worries; they're around the lake or in the gated communities.

Small business in Wal-Mart communities have learned to survive. For grocery stores its fresher goods; for others it's good customer service and staff that really know the products they are selling. Then too, if you're determined not to support or work at Wal-Mart no one is putting a gun to your head and forcing you.

As for Mrs. Centa's sentiment that "We don't want them anywhere. They don't treat their employees fairly, they don't treat the people they buy from fairly, they're not an asset to our country. Nobody wants them." I will agree they have not always been the best of corporate citizens but I do feel they have made great strides in addressing a lot of the issues. Here is where I respectfully disagree. If you work in retail you'll find many employers guilty of similar practices. They are an asset to those living on limited incomes. In their dealings with foreign suppliers - I draw to your attention that China is now Idaho's largest trading partner. Nobody wants them? I do.


stebbijo said...

This is probably just a rumor -- but I heard the gov from Idaho wants an office in China so he can bring back photos of his two moons over the wall?

Christina Ethridge said...

What an excellent balanced post. People get so worked up about being a 'Walmart Hater' that they can't see the forest for the trees.

Thank you!