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2008-04-21
Madill, OK. When City Goes Fishing For Bigger Wal-Mart, Local Grocer Shuts Down

Officials in one small Oklahoma community went fishing for a larger Wal-Mart, but killed off the smaller fish in the process. The tiny "city" of Madill, Oklahoma has roughly 3,700 people. It already has a Wal-Mart discount store, and is surrounded by three Wal-Mart supercenters in Durant and Ardmore, Oklahoma, and Denison, Texas. Its median family income is just over half of the average household income in America, making Madill a prime choice for Wal-Mart. The city is located in Marshall County, which is described by the Madill Chamber of Commerce as "strategically located approximately halfway between Dallas and Oklahoma City." According to the Chamber of Commerce, Madill is located in the "Striper Capital of the World," because of Lake Texoma, which as 589 miles of shoreline. Lake Texoma is famous for its striped bass, or striper fishing. Stripers were introduced into the lake in 1969 and have flourished ever since. Texoma is one of the few lakes in the United States where stripers reproduce. Fishing is the big lure for tourists in Madill, and the big blue and red Wal-Mart sign on South First street in Madill says "Striper Fishing Headquarters." The Chamber says Marshall County is "the Smallest County in Oklahoma with the Biggest Heart!" Apparently this small county now needs a bigger Wal-Mart. According to KTen television, the Madill City Council is hooked on a super Wal-Mart, and has already signed an agreement to allow the store to expand. The agreement includes a nice welfare package for Wal-Mart -- a taxpayer subsidy. The city's taxpayers are going to pay to provide "infrastructure" to the site for a 98,000 s.f. building. Wal-Mart has said that it will pick up the cost of widening Route 70, and putting in a traffic signal at the main entrance to the store. City officials say the new superstore will bring in more traffic and consumers to Madill -- and it will bring tourists visting Lake Texoma into Madill for fishing supplies. Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jeff Hudson told the TV station, "The current Wal-Mart we have right now carries alot more fishing equipment than some of the other Wal-Marts do, so that would certainly be a plus."

What you can do: About one month before the story became public that Wal-Mart was building a supercenter, a well-known family-owned grocery store in Madill announced that it was closing its doors as of March 26th. The Thrifty Grocery store was purchased by the Homeland Company. All 50 employees at the Thrifty will be picked up by Homeland. The owners of Thrifty told First 12 TV News they were unable to compete with "big competitors" coming to town. The TV station said: "After 30 years in business, the owners of Thrifty say since Wal-Mart could be moving into the neighborhood anytime soon, it's better to sell the family business now rather than wait to be put out of business." The comanager of Thrifty, James Christie, told the station, "As a matter of Wal-Mart coming into town, we figured with a merger of two companies we would have a fighting chance standing against them." "That is the reason why owners of Thrifty decided to sell their family owned grocery store to Homeland," said First 12 TV, "fearing that competition from national giant Wal-Mart would put their store out of business." With Thrifty gone, Homeland will be the only grocery store left in Madill. Now local observers are wondering how long Homeland will remain around once the superstore opens. Readers are urged to email Jeff Hudson, the head of the Madill Chamber of Commerce at: info@mccoonline.org with the following message: "Dear, Mr. Hudson: I am always pained to see small town merchants abandoned by their local chamber of commerce. Some residents in Madill might appear concerned that Homeland is the only small grocery left in the city -- but not the Chamber of Commerce. You've tangled your line with that of Wal-Mart -- and the main reason you gave for promoting a bigger Wal-Mart was 'a lot more fishing equipment.' So 50 people at Thrifty lost their jobs so you could have 'more fishing equipment?' The Wal-Mart on South First is large enough for a community with 3,700 people. You've got plenty of superstores surrounding Madill, but when you cut line with your local merchants, what's left for the Chamber to do? Wal-Mart certainly doesn't need a local Chamber of Commerce to promote them. You decided it was better to have a Big Fish in a little pond -- but when you have only one grocery store left in town -- those everyday low prices aren't going to look so low anymore. The President of the Chamber lures people to Madill by saying 'live with country folk and enjoy the simple life. Get together with friends and have a fish fry on the weekends, toss some horse shoes or just sit back and enjoy a cold glass of ice tea while watching the sunset over the lake.' That country way of life will disappear if you keep reeling in chain stores. The 'simple life' and suburban sprawl and crime don't go well together -- even in Madill."










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

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