Now that Wal-Mart is opening its Superstore in this town, I guess it’s time to stop calling it a town and start calling it the city it officially is. Life in the city comes at a cost. And while this city is growing at an unprecedented rate, the runaway home construction is focused more on the northwest side, whereas the majority of stores – including Wal-Mart – are on the southeast end of town (oops! – the city).
It is a fact that Wal-Mart is opening in July. It is a fact that there is thriving business throughout Yelm now. It is a fact that Wal-Mart will bring low prices – at least for a while. How long will those low prices last? Probably as long as the other shops in town do. Wal-Mart has a history of low-balling prices until the “competition” is gone, then raising them way up.
Here’s an opportunity for everyone to learn – and perhaps even prove the “anti-Wal-Mart contingent” wrong. The experiment:
Drive from one end of Yelm to the other – preferably around 5:15pm on a weekday – and record all of the stores that are open for business. Estimate (or ask!) how many people work there and what kind of wages they’re paid. Time how long it takes you to make your end-to-end journey. Use video if you want, but record things in one form or another. Then do this every six months for the next three years. Write back at the end of your study and tell us all how it turned out…
I would venture to say that there will be significant change, and not necessarily for the better. Wal-Mart’s history is well-documented, and it’s not very pleasant. Higher-paying jobs disappear while minimum-wage jobs replace them. Benefits go with them. The money that is spent at local shops spreads around, whereas Wal-Mart money makes a beeline for Arkansas. History is what has happened, and while it does not guarantee the same actions in the future, it does provide a good indicator – unless something significant changes. We haven’t seen that with Wal-Mart.