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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.

James Zukowski

Posted by Steve on June 22, 2007 at 8:52 am | Permalink

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  1. OK, let’s look at this a second… go to Yelm to buy a pair of underwear – oh wait, there isn’t any place to buy underwear, a printed T-shirt, shoes, or the list goes on, so you drive to Lacey or Tacoma, your choice – buy what you need at what ever store you choose, do you think that money spent returns to Yelm?? The anti-Walmart folks love to talk like you can actually buy anything you need here – I would trust me, I like Yelm, I hate driving that far to get something! But if we had stores that stocked what people want, there would be no need for a Walmart. Yelm allowed the big growth in housing, and with it comes the stores to support that growth. One other little tid-bit, the prices out here are a bit HIGH due to the lack of competition, why else would parts for a computer be $38 higher on a $125 part between Yelm and Lacey? The trick to all this is, make the big store pick up the big projects, Walmart is fronting part of the bill for the by-pass, that was actually a smart deal by the city!

    Comment by Shank on July 1, 2007 at 9:34 am

  2. You do not have the correct information on Wal-Mart fronting the bill for part of the by-pass.
    Unfortunately, the city of Yelm agreed to let Wal-Mart pay for bypass improvements ONLY from Yelm Highway to 103rd, and that’s it – a VERY SMALL part of the bypass.
    Further, the city did not get any impact fees to cover the costs to soon must-be-widened Yelm Highway from Wal-mart to 5 Corners,
    an isuue covered on this blog previously.

    Comment by Steve Klein on July 2, 2007 at 6:53 pm

  3. I buy my undergarments through a catalog, so I won’t vouch for not being able to buy that in Yelm. However, I can buy LOTS of printed t-shirts from Sunbirds, Safeway, Rite-Aid, Tim’s Pharmacy, Gordons, Lemuria, 7th Heaven, JZ Rose and the new Yelm Food Co-op. Some of those stores have shoes as well. And there are lots of entrepenurial business in Yelm with stores on the web that keep the local economy viable and “the little guy (or gal)” in business supporting themselves, their families and their futures. Just check with the Yelm Chamber of Commerce and you’ll be amazed at what you can buy and the diverse services offered locally!

    As the City continues to grant unprecedented residential permits, the “north” end of town may become so top heavy, that all those people grid-locked in traffic may very well choose not to go to shop in the “south” part of the city due to the congestion. The turn out lane provided by Wal-Mart will not help those matters. In fact, depending on whose numbers you use, traffic services will degrade further to poor performance levels: D and in some cases, F.

    With respect to the research proposed by Mr Zukowski, I suggest such a migration has already occurred, as evidenced by the wise choice of Kelly Peterson of Gordon’s Nursery, by selling a piece of roadfront property.

    Who will be next and how many others follow suit remains to be seen, a fact that everyone who calls Yelm “home” should watch with sharp eyes.

    Comment by Victoria Blazejewski on July 2, 2007 at 10:34 pm

  4. It has been said that the way to be successful is to find a need and fill it. If you can’t find what you want in Yelm, then there are probably others in the same boat. You don’t need to wait for “the big stores” to fill your needs. So…Open your own store, offering the things “nobody else has”, charge appropriately, and collect the profits. It’s the American way. Just like Sam Walton did in the 60’s.

    James Zukowski

    Comment by Jim Zukowski on July 6, 2007 at 6:37 am

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