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2008-04-02
Memphis, TN. After Dropping Superstore Plans, Wal-Mart Shuts Down Its Discount Store Too.

One Wal-Mart superstore cancellation in Memphis, Tennessee has now led to another Wal-Mart closure in the city. On November 25, 2007, Sprawl-Busters reported that Wal-Mart had scrapped a supercenter project in Memphis. Wal-Mart decided four months ago not to proceed with plans to build a supercenter at the old Mall of Memphia. The mall owner, Lehman Brothers Holdings, was left without an anchor store. City officials were pinning their hopes on Wal-Mart as the highest use of the site, which is the former home of a 1.2 million-square-foot mall. Wal-Mart was under contract to buy 22.5 acres of the 95-acre site, and had filed a site plan for a 176,000 s.f. store with the Memphis and Shelby County Office of Planning and Development. A Wal-Mart spokesman said in November that his company was no longer pursuing those plans. "We no longer have a contract on that property," he said. This rollback in Memphis stems back to the company's announcement at its annual stockholder's meeting in June, 2007 that it was cutting back the number of new store openings. The scaling back of new stores was a result of Wall Street concerns that the retailer's new stores were cannibalizing sales at its existing stores. "Its not just in Memphis or Tennessee, but across the country," the Wal-Mart spokesman explained. "The company decided to focus on existing stores and take a break on expansion." But now even existing stores are closing. Sprawl-Busters noted in November that Wal-Mart already operates store # 1031 at 5000 American Way, near the Mall of Memphis site. But this week, ABC News in Memphis reported that Wal-Mart is going to shut down its existing store also. The site on American Way, which was opened in 1988, will close in May. ABC called that decision a "tough blow to the area." The Wal-Mart discount store was one of the largest retailers in the Delta Square Shopping Center in southeast Memphis. The TV station said that local Wal-Mart employees "won't say why this store is closing down." But the neighbors say its because of rising crime rates, and they fear an empty Wal-Mart will just be another invitation to crime. In July 2006, the former Mall of Memphis turned into a crime scene, when Memphis Police found two bodies at the old mall site. Now Wal-Mart is leaving the dead body of its store on the corner of a street appropriately called "American Way."

What you can do: ABC news 24 in Memphis conducted a survey of crime within a one mile radius of the Wal-Mart on American Way. In the last month, the station found, there were 14 assaults in the area, 12 homes broken into, and six robberies. Now the city has lost a planned supercenter, and an existing Wal-Mart -- both in a matter of months. The giant retailers' pullout will leave the city with two struggling malls. City officials in Memphis want to fill up their dead mall, but the fact is, the city is already swarming with six other Wal-Marts. Not counting their dead store on American Way, Wal-Mart already has 13 dead stores in Tennessee, totaling 876,913 s.f of "dark" stores -- or enough to fill 15 football fields. Readers are urged to email Memphis' Mayor, Dr. Willie Herenton at mayor@memphistn.gov with the following message: "Dear Mayor Herenton, Now that Wal-Mart has delivered a double-blow to Southeast Memphis, pulling out of a superstore plan at the Mall of Memphis, and closing their store at Delta Square, perhaps its time to give back more economic control to your neighborhoods, instead of national chain stores. These giant corporations make decisions for their bottom line, regardless of the impact on your city's bottom line. Smaller, locally-owned businesses do not arrive with their suitcases packed. Memphis should put a cap on the size of retail buildings, and when a chain store wants to build a bigger store, ask them for a demolition bond to pay for the cost of their "old" store if it sits empty more than 24 months. Other communities have started to express their needs to developers, and are working to prevent companies like Wal-Mart from leaving town with nothing but a dead building to show for their commitment to the local community. This kind of economic strip-mining needs to stop."










 
 
"Norman has become the guru of the anti-Wal-Mart movement" ~ 60 Minutes

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