The Effect of Walmart

We don’t need more Big Box retailers!

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In “The Dream of a Middle Class New York” from New York Magazine, proposal was made to increase the amount of “big-box stores” like Wal-Mart to allow for more affordable prices. I was shocked by this statement. More Wal-marts, really? In order to properly investigate by disagreement with the addition of more Walmarts I did a little bit of research on “big-box” stores and their effects on the local community. After all I am a curious graduate student who is always looking for a way to save a few bucks.

According to Wikipedia, big box stores are a large chain retail stores such as Walmart, Target, Lowes, JC Penny’s, Macy’s etc. While these stores generally offer lower prices, these stores do get a lot of heat from local businesses. So much so that Universities have become in involved to study the phenomena.  From here on, I’ll focus specifically on Walmart because each big box company will vary in its policies that could effect the outcomes of these studies.

In 2008, a study done by a professor at West Virginia University found there was essentially no overall change with addition of a Walmart to the community. Some local businesses closes, but others who offered different goods reopened. Well, sweet…I will now be able to sleep after shopping at Walmart knowing that I didn’t bankrupt a local business.

WAIT, WAIT, there’s more!

In 2009, three years after the first Walmarts were opened in Chicago, Loyola University published a  study that Walmart was having a serious effect on the community, closing substantial amounts of local businesses and not surprisingly ever since Walmart has been the subject of debates beyond academia. Walmart is accused of reducing the amount of jobs in a community, and Walmart also has seen its share of studies related to worker wages, pointing out that their wages are too low. Concerned citizens have written books on how Walmart is destroying not just America, but also the world.

Welp, there goes my beauty rest and piggy bank?…Well not so fast, I have been able to shop at local shops like Bartells and coupon at grocery stores to make my graduate school budget work. I am by no means below the poverty line, but I don’t think Walmart is the answer. And other Seattlites agree Walmart. Walmart proposals result in citizen protests. So here at the University of Washington, at least I won’t be tempted by Walmart.

I think diversity in the economic market will keep prices under control to create affordable prices, and one of most important factors in affordable shopping will be smart shopping on the part of the consumers. Buying less in particular. Consumers must buy according to their need and look for the best deals. Food stamps are another good option. Take me for example, I look to save at least 20% or more on my Safeway receipt. Nine out of ten times I make it, and I don’t even watch extreme couponing.

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