I live in Harrisburg, NC, a small town just outside of Charlotte. We have about 7000 households at this time, and just about everyone who lives here loves the idea of knowing people at the grocery store or the local Chinese place or at church.
We don't currently have a lot of shopping here-a few locally owned businesses and the like. But we're okay with that, since we're less than 10 minutes from Concord Mills mall and roughly 20 minutes to ANYTHING you might want to purchase.
Wal-Mart has been trying to establish a presence here. They bought a parcel of land on Highway 49, our main thoroughfare in town, and a firestorm started to fight them.
- Looks like Wal-Mart would bring an additional 40000 cars a day to an already busy road.
- The parcel of land backs up to a residential housing development.
- We don't have full-time police officers in our town
- Two of the stores that have big crime problems are within 15 miles of Harrisburg and Wal-Mart will close those stores when this one opens
- Wal-Mart pays employees an average of $9.71 per hour with no benefits.
The town council and mayor wanted to approve the rezoning request, citing the addition to the tax base and the jobs Wal-Mart would add. They didn't want to hear the fact-that our average house price of $175,000 isn't something that can purchased by someone working for $9.71 per hour...so where will the workers come from? Not Harrisburg-so where's the benefit? They didn't want to hear the fact that the additional tax revenue would be offset by the loss of local businesses or the added expense of increased crime (which is well documented at just about any Wal-Mart nationwide). They didn't want to hear the truth that the housing prices in the neighboring area would suffer by proximity to a 24-hour store that caters to a low-middle income demographic.
Until our town leaders take the time to study the difference between the approaches of Wal-Mart and Target, they will never understand how much damage they can cause. Why is Target better? As a company, they pay a living wage and offer benefits-resulting in less employee turnover and fewer problems. Their employees, by virtue of making more, spend more in the local economy. Target goes after a middle-upper income demographic-which like it or not, means less crime and theft.
The Wal-Mart rezoning was temporarily defeated. But Lowe's Home Improvement has been approved. Even though there are 4 home warehouse type stores within a 6 mile radius.
And the saddest thing about the situation is that now that Lowe's has been approved, Wal-Mart is likely going to sue the town for not passing the rezoning request. What a sad world when he who has the most expensive lawyers and the deepest pockets, wins.