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Support of Lakeview Wal-Mart Convenient Store Concept

March 21, 2011 3 comments

I wrote the following letter to my Alderman  Tom Tunney today.

Mr. Tunney,

My name is Ed Hayes, and I am a constituent of yours.  As a fellow member of the LGBT community, I appreciate your support of all LGBT issues.  I am also a frequent customer of your Ann Sather restaurants which I am proud to have in Lakeview.

With that said, I live at 519 W Melrose and fully support Wal-Mart entering Lakeview with its new convenient store concept.

Lakeview has had a grocery store deficit for many years since the Dominic’s burned down in 2005.  With the project to rebuild Dominic’s apparently dead, I see no reason prevent Wal-Mart from entering the area. Especially if they are planning a convenient store which does not require a parking lot.  The Lakeview long term plan designates Broadway as being a pedestrian street.  A Convenient store like Wal-Mart would conform to that more than the previously planned Dominic’s with parking lot, and more than the Trader Joe’s currently being constructed with a parking garage.

None of the products sold by local small businesses/boutiques would be in competition with Wal-Mart’s convenient store concept.  The only competition to Wal-Mart’s store are the current grocery store offerings.  The current grocery stores closest to the planned Wal-Mart lcoation (Dominic’s, Jewel, Whole Foods, Treasure Island, and Market Place) have prices much higher than Wal-Mart’s expected prices. If/when Wal-Mart enters the market, consumers will pay less on their every day groceries, giving them more buying power for local restaurants and boutiques.  That means Wal-Mart would actually help local businesses.  Furthermore, Wal-Mart would increase foot traffic along Broadway and Clark; foot traffic that could only help other local businesses.  And as I mentioned before, is already part of the long term Lakeview plan.

Accusing Wal-Mart of having poor labor relations is completely unfair.  Wal-Mart has arguably better labor relations than many other local grocers and businesses.  If Wal-Mart’s labor relations are as bad as people claim they are, nobody will want to work there, and the store will never open.  Never the less, the unemployment rate in Chicago is quite high, and adding potential jobs is important to everybody in the city.  I don’t see any point on blocking any employer from creating much needed jobs.

The recent news to rezone the storefront which Wal-Mart plans to lease is outrageous.  I am fairly certain that many other retailers on the same corner as the potential Wal-Mart have just as large of a footprint as Wal-Mart plans to have, if not larger! I don’t know their exact square footages, but Borders, TJ Maxx, World Market, and Bed Bath and Beyond are all quite large.

Trader Joe’s is coming soon; why are they getting any special treatment?  They are just as much a national chain and arguably more specialized than Wal-Mart. Trader Joe’s will provide more of a threat to local businesses than Wal-Mart ever will. If the goal is to save local businesses, why was Trader Joe’s allowed to build a store?

The building Wal-Mart plans to occupy currently has three empty storefronts.  Borders is about to provide another open storefront very close by.  And, there are countless smaller storefronts in the neighborhood which are also empty.  If a company like Wal-Mart is planning to improve and occupy two of those empty storefronts, it is preposterous to block them.

The only argument I would agree with against Wal-Mart is that it is a national chain, and our neighborhood would be better off with local small businesses.  But if National chains are so bad, why are so many other National chains already allowed to be in the area?  Walgreens, CVS, Panera, Starbucks, Hair Cuttery, Best Buy, Chipotle, TJ Maxx; I could go on and on.  Any argument against Wal-Mart must also be applied to other retailer.

If the argument was against a Applebee’s, I would be in complete agreement with you.  However, this argument is over a store which sells the same exact products as Dominic’s, Jewel, and Treasure Island.  However, Wal-Mart has a superior supply chain which allows them to sell their goods at drastically lower prices.  Personally, I prefer to pay as little as possible for commodities such groceries.  Milk or flour is the same no matter where it is purchased.  Why pay more just because a store is “local”.  A “local” grocer that sells flour provides no benefit over a national flour retailer.  When it comes to restaurants and clothing, I am willing to pay more for unique and higher quality offerings offered by local businesses.

Please reconsider your decision to attempt to block Wal-Mart from entering our community.  I would gladly discuss this with you further if given the chance.

Regards,
Ed Hayes

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