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RE: Wal-Mart and an Equal Playing Field
by Kara Hansen-Blazier


August 04, 2004

I feel compelled to respond to Brandi's statement which follows: "However you are not right to blame Wal-Mart for the loss to local businesses. I would be more than happy to shop at locally owned businesses but unfortunately most of them have prices that were just too high for me to justify buying anything. Being a single mother I just could not afford to spend the $30 on one pair of pants for my son."

I was born and raised in Ketchikan and moved here to Weiser, Idaho 11 years ago. When I lived there the now defunct Hub and Ben Franklin store was an excellent place to purchase lower priced clothing....and Tongass Trading had a wonderful ladies clothing store where one could find excellent deals on their sales racks. I went 'home' for my class reunion 4 years ago about the time Wal-Mart was considering their move into Ketchikan...... from experience here in Weiser I knew this would be a HUGE mistake. The local businesses in Ketchikan were already struggeling with a poor economy and all that was needed to finish many of them off was a big corporation such as Wal-Mart to step in and help them to close their doors.

When I moved here to Weiser (as I call it....Idaho's own little Mayberry) there was a clothing store, fabric store, office store, Hallmark store, shoe store and several wonderful little gift shops and a new Wal-Mart 20 miles east of us in Ontario, Oregon. I was one of those who made the mistake of shopping our local stores 'sometimes' and Wal-Mart often in order to save a few bucks. It wasn't long before the clothing store shut its doors, then the shoe store, then the fabric store and all the sweet little gift shops started to disappear.... guess who whined the loudest when I suddenly came to the realization that when I needed a white shirt for my son's band concert in which he was playing that night that I would have to drive 40 miles round trip in order to buy one?

Wal-Mart has since expanded and became a Super Center with groceries. Within months the 3 year old locally owned grocery store right next door to Wal-Mart had to shut its doors. Recently another locally owned grocery store shut its doors as did several clothing stores in the Ontario area... and guess what............. as Wal-Mart's local competition became less and less their prices started to rise in addition we suddenly became slaves to Wal-Mart's idea of fashion unless one wanted to drive another 50 miles to Boise..... which at least we here have that option....... not so easy in Ketchikan.

I will hand it to Wally world that they are very good at donating to local causes, but most businesses are, especially if they are thriving and they can only do this if the community supports them. I have to question how wonderful it would be to work at Wal-Mart... I have it on good information (at least at the Wal-Mart here) that they are famous for keeping their employees hours right at 32 hours so they do not have to pay benefits. What it took for me to become more aware of our local businesses plight was to get out and talk to the business owners, face to face and understand just what they are up against which I sincerely encourage you to do. Believe me, with the limited choices one already has in Ketchikan you don't want to end up with the only choice being Wal-Mart.

Kara Hansen-Blazier
Weiser, ID - USA


Related Viewpoint:

RE: Wal-Mart and an Equal Playing Field by Brandi Conway - Ketchikan, AK



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