Above you will find a link to the article and video that I was interviewed by CBS 11 DFW for regarding the plan to install a new Wal*Mart in my neighborhood.
Monday afternoon I was walking my dog, Jade, down Roundrock Street toward Coit Road. This is the last leg of the normal route that I take with Jade. At the intersection of Coit and Roundrock, there is a Neighborhood Wal*Mart in the shopping center. While this Neighborhood Wal*Mart is not the typical blue, overlarge, stand-alone Supercenter that are most Wal*Marts in the area, it is a convenient and busy store that serves the adjacent neighborhood. Many times, I've walked to this store and carried a bag of dog food or small collection of groceries home. I use this location as my pharmacy, complete with drive-through. This location carries the products consumers use on a regular basis, but omits those that may be attributed to a special trip. For example, I can do my grocery shopping here, pick up toiletries, and get the latest movie releases. There is even a RedBox movie rental machine in front and a CoinStar machine, as would be at a Wal*Mart Supercenter. If I need auto parts, craft supplies, home goods, or a wider selection of non-grocery products, I can venture 7-10 minutes down Coit or to nearby Belt Line and Montfort to a Wal*Mart Supercenter. I have never felt inconvenienced or that there is a lack of Wal*Mart in my life.
On this particular walk, I was stopped by Robbie Owens, a reporter for CBS 11 DFW, and her cameraman. She asked me if I had an opinion on the new Wal*Mart. My first thought: of course I do have an opinion on Wal*Mart.... but to be frankly honest I had no idea what she was talking about. I gave her a puzzled look and she told me about Wal*Mart's new plan to occupy an already-constructed shopping center at the intersection of Coit and Arapaho. OH BOY do I have an opinion!
As soon as I heard this, I consented to an interview. In the video, it's quite obvious that I consider implementing a Wal*Mart in such a location "unnecessary." As I've already explained, there is a suitable Neighborhood Wal*Mart just across the street (literally a stone's throw from the proposed new location) and there are two Wal*Mart Supercenters within a reasonable distance. What I did not have time to explain are the deeper reasons why a Wal*Mart is unnecessary at this location.
1. Another complication with this location is its proximity to school zones. There are at least 4 school zones I can think of off the top of my head that already create and suffer from morning and afternoon traffic on or near Arapaho and Coit. The very LAST thing needed here is a Wal*Mart with customers rushing in and out, creating more traffic, and putting youth in danger on their ways to and from school. Because the neighborhoods are so close by, a very many of these students are pedestrians. Kids are not like typical law-abiding pedestrians found downtown--they don't always use crosswalks, they ride skateboards across the street, and they walk and run down alleyways and in areas where visibility is already hindered. Traffic created from a Wal*Mart here would endanger these students even more. Can you picture the headline: "Child Pedestrian Injured by Wal*Mart Semi Truck While Walking to School." When I think about it, the other two busy Wal*Mart Supercenter locations I visit are not really anywhere near a school zone.
(Schools near Coit and Arapaho intersection)
While endangering students is my primary concern regarding traffic, I'm not a huge fan of the idea of increasing traffic anyway. Coit is already a busy road and rush hour traffic gets congested easily enough anyway. Not only that, but say I did want to get to that Wal*Mart--the location would not exactly be easy to navigate to through traffic anyway!
2. As mentioned in the report, this Wal*Mart will only be about 92,000 square feet. According to their 2010 annual report, Wal*Mart Supercenter stores are typically 98,000-210,000 square feet. If they want a Supercenter here, they don't have a big enough space. Putting a Discount Store here that does not include a grocery department seems illogical. I only wish the city could do something about it--but since the space is less than 100,000 square feet, they are rendered powerless to stop it.
3. I'm just going to go ahead and call Wal*Mart out on their stupidity. Whoever is in the growth and ventures division might want to pump the breaks. Wal*Mart is mimicking Starbucks by putting new locations everywhere you turn. Though part of it was the economic downturn, Starbucks is STILL having to reduce the number of stores they operate because of cannibalization. Rather than domestic growth, Starbucks has turned to growth in emerging and new markets.
What does Wal*Mart think they are doing putting a location here? This is not really an area of growth. The neighborhoods are older and well established and there really are not any new developments going up around the area that would not already be closer to a different Wal*Mart.
A store here would simply cannibalize the existing business they have at the Wal*Mart Supercenters they have on Coit near PGBT and at Belt Line and Montfort, and would probably kill the Neighborhood Wal*Mart at Roundrock. Any argument they give for job creation at a new location gets stomped here--closing the Neighborhood Wal*Mart due to cannibalized business down the street will eliminate any jobs created at a new Wal*Mart. I truly believe Wal*Mart is over-extending themselves here, and would do better to focus on newly developed areas and increasing their focus on the global market if growth is really their organizational goal.
4. By the same token, NOT having a Wal*Mart here would not likely hurt the company. As I said, I think they would be worse off investing here rather than in a new area where new neighborhoods are being developed. Robbie asked me if I thought boycotting the new location here would even hurt Wal*Mart. Is Wal*Mart still operating? DUH--so absolutely not, any boycott would be a mere scratch or tiny bruise on the company. Clearly, I don't see what the company has to gain here by inserting a new store. They could do a lot for their local reputation, however, if they shift their focus toward new developments and heed the wishes of this established neighborhood that already has their "Wal*Mart needs" fulfilled.
5. Would I boycott that location? Probably. For a while. Just like I boycotted Wal*Mart at their refusal to call Holidays (HOLY DAYS) like Christmas and Easter by their true names in the interest of being "politically correct," I could again boycott the company and take my business elsewhere. But the company is not stupid. Sam Walton's original idea of a price-leadership model and the creation of the supply-chain to implement it is STILL brilliance and they are STILL the market leader. No amount of boycotting is going to make this new location go away UNLESS it is nipped in the bud. Unless it is stopped before it is opened, I don't really see us stopping them. Unfortunate? Somewhat, but welcome to Big American Business.
I could probably come up with more reasons as to why a Wal*Mart here is NOT a good idea, but I think I've made my point. I do not see any reason why Wal*Mart should open a store at Coit and Arapaho. It does not seem profitable for them as a company, and it has already frustrated local residents of the surrounding neighborhoods.
To sign the petition against the building of a Wal*Mart at Coit and Arapaho, go to Change.org or follow this link:
I encourage all my friends to sign--even those who do not live anywhere near here. I can say that my Fulshear family and friends are experiencing the same dilemma.... Your signature may only be a drop in the bucket, but a lot of drops become very heavy. Thank you!