University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Wal-Mart Beauty or Beast
Suppose Wal-Mart has announced plans to seek approval from the planning commission of a small town to build a new store. Develop a list of the main arguments, pro and con, that could be presented at a public hearing on the matter by members of each of these two groups: 1. Owners of small businesses located nearby. 2. Town residents, and residents of nearby towns. How might a Wal-Mart representative respond to the negative criticisms that might be brought up, and what other benefits could the representative offer the planning board to bolster Wal-Mart’s case for gaining the board’s approval?
Owners of small business – Con’s we don’t want Wal-Mart in our town Because of the size of Wal-Mart they are able to lower prices low enough to drive mom & pop businesses out of business. This will turn, what is a formerly a bustling small rural town into a ghost town. Local citizens who pay taxes and shop and live within the community own the small businesses that make up a community. This keeps the money both spent and earned in the community. If a Wal-Mart is allowed to come in and compete, they will drive these local business out of business and Wal-Mart profits will be shipped out of the county and out of state. According to Freeman (2003) “This is accomplished through Wal-Mart’s policy of paying workers below subsistence wages, and importing goods that have been produced under slave-labor conditions overseas.” Do we really want to provide Wal-Mart the opportunity to come into our community and destroy what has been established over decades of traditional family businesses.
Pro’s – Wal-Mart is good for business It is true that when Wal-Mart moves into community businesses shut down. There have been many documentaries showing the empty buildings and the many closed shops downtown. What they haven’t shown are the businesses that fill those empty shops eventually. In their publication Sobel and Dean point out that it is a principle of creative destruction when a more efficient system moves in the less efficient are destroyed.
So when a Wal-Mart moves into town the local dress shop closes but in its place a high-end restaurant move into that downtown space. Because Wal-Mart can make and sell dresses more efficiently the dress shop is destroyed but now there is available resource freed up. Before the restaurant couldn’t afford to move into downtown. The end result is local customers can buy dresses for less and have money left over to eat at the restaurant. Nothing has been destroyed but has been reorganized in a more efficient system. The end result is higher quality of life for everyone.