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Wednesday
Jun132012

Why I support of Assembly Street Walmart

I admit it. I was initially against selling the stadium to Walmart. I really didn't care much about the Rocky Branch flooding issues. To me it was about the traffic issues and the effect it would have on small business in Rosewood.

I've come around though. No small part was due to an excellent article written by Kevin Fisher in the Free Times.

The flooding issues I think can be handled through engineering. In the end a private business will be responsible to protect their investment. While it was great to have the idea of a green space you have to have businesses somewhere. The city has enough parks. We need revenue generators.

Traffic is still going to be a troublesome.  That's a rough part of assembly since you are sandwiched in between 2 railroad tracks. I'm not a traffic engineer but I will just have to trust that this is something the city will plan for. I will drop a follow up email to council to find out what the solution will be and who is handling it.

Finally the effect on small business. Yes Walmart hurts small business. I have no doubt that people will shop their that formally shopped at other places. I think this is more of an anti Walmart sentiment than pro small business.

Personally I hate shopping at Walmart. They are crowded. They NEVER have enough registers open and the employees vary from non attentive to down right rude. I would rather pay the premium and shop at Target on Garners Ferry. People WILL shop at Walmart though. College kids and people that want to make their dollar go farther will go there. If I needed a toy for my daughter that only Walmart had (for examples Weebles) I'd shop there.

America has a HUGE advantage when we stick to a free market approach. Lets not pick winners and losers because thats what we are doing if we cut out Walmart just because its name.

I give 2 examples. Whole Foods and Trader Joe's. Everybody I know is STOKED to shop at these. They should be too. Trader Joes has products that are unique that I use to have to go to Charlotte to get. Now I can get their cut rate wines right down the road.

What of the small businesses though? I propose they will do more to kill the boutique businesses of five points and rosewood more than Walmart.

Take the Rosewood Market. Its been a fixture in Rosewood for years. Their earth friendly and organic products are great. I had a salad there a few weeks ago. Look at the overlap in items with Earth Fare and Whole Foods though. This is going to hurt them. Same as the cooking stores in 5 points. I think they can still succeed but will need to reinvent themselves possibly or adapt to the changing market.

Still Trader Joe's and Whole Foods are celebrated (rightly) and Walmart is reviled. I believe the free market is the best judge of what is appropriate for the area. Yes corporations want to make money. They aren't going to waste it moving to an area they can't make a profit in. If Columbia wants to claim its spot in America's top cities we are going to have to be business friendly. We can start by not turning away Walmart because of name.

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