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In Wal-Mart’s Defense

Although I am more of a “Target” person, I find myself in the odd position of using this space to defend Wal-Mart.

I was recently in my boyhood neighborhood on the South side of Chicago checking on my parents who are getting up there in years.  I took my Dad grocery shopping and instead of hitting the usual Jewel-Osco, he wanted to go to Wal-Mart instead.

The store in the Chatham neighborhood,  near 85th Street and the Dan Ryan expressway  and a seven-year long battle took place before it could locate on the site of a former steel company.

When Wal-Mart unveiled its original plans, it was met with opposition from unions and activists, who according to media reports at the time used every political and zoning trick in the book to try and keep it out of the city.

And then the recession hit; people needed jobs and more importantly, Chicago needed tax revenue.

The store has been a welcome shot in the arm for that area.   The folks in that neighborhood are employed and they have a grocery store that is reasonably priced.  In addition, development has started to go up around Wal-Mart.  There is a Lowe’s hardware store next door and more plans are in the work to bring more businesses to the area.

Now there are those of you who will complain about Wal-Mart’s wages and benefits, however if you do some investigation, you’ll find that the retailer’s full-time employees don’t do too badly and part-time employees can move up the ladder if they stay long enough.  And seeing what the wages were for a lot of the folks didn’t have a job BEFORE Wal-Mart showed up, I don’t think they’re complaining too much.

So does all this mean I will switch to Wal-Mart instead of Target?   Not at all.  But for thousands of families on Chicago’s south side, Wal-Mart is perfect for them.


  • Smitty

    The problem with Wal-Mart is that they don’t reinvest much into
    their local communities and in the long run will cripple other small businesses
    in the area. All of that excess money
    goes to Jonesboro. Wal-Mart is amazingly
    efficient at destroying their competition, while that may be good for Wal-Mart
    and its shareholders—it is not always good for tax revenues in the long
    run. Eventually, the initial gains from
    building a supercenter will be offset with a loss of revenue from the businesses
    that Wal-Mart will edge out. True, Wal-Mart
    is convenient and they offer great value for consumers—yet at what cost? A
    Wal-Mart Supercenter was built in my community about 20 years ago. It was awesome at first, but after a few
    years it became evident that it actually damaged our local tax base, which ultimately
    had to be recouped through higher local property taxes.

  • malercous

    It’s estimated that Walmart’s employees cost taxpayers $6.2 billion in food stamps alone. Then there’s the Medicaid many of them get too. I’ve known several people who’ve worked at Walmart, both full & part-time & none of them thought it was a good job. And why does Walmart have so many part-timers? No benefits.
    Walmart isn’t a good community citizen & we subsidize their business model. I don’t shop there & miss the local businesses they’ve displaced where I used to shop.