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2009-10-31
Fargo, ND. Redundant Wal-Mart Opens Near Other Wal-Marts

Children's Health magazine just rated Fargo, North Dakota as the 3rd best place in America to raise a family. The magazine compared 29 quality of life variables in the areas of employment, health, housing, safety, education, and family life to calculate their 100 Best Places to Raise Children. The magazine looked at cost of living and unemployment rates, but they also looked at factors like the number of fast food restaurants per capita. Fargo lost out to Burlington, Vermont and Madison, Wisconsin, both college towns -- but Children's Health magazine didn't factor in the new Wal-Mart supercenter in Fargo that has local officials swooning. The current mayor of Fargo is Dennis Walaker, who was elected to a four-year term in June 2006. Mayor Walaker is a Fargo native who was hired by the city as a civil engineer 35 years ago. Twenty years ago, Walaker became the city's Public Works Operations Manager. He jumped into politics three years ago. This week, Mayor Walaker had something to get excited about. After four years, Wal-Mart has opened another superstore in south Fargo. Fargo already has a superstore in the southwest part of the city, and a Wal-Mart discount store on 55th Avenue in South Fargo. There is also a Wal-Mart superstore about 3 miles away in Dilworth, Minnesota. So Fargo is not lacking in Wal-Marts already, and there is no announcement yet if the Wal-Mart discount store on 55th Avenue will close, but it's a likely bet. This new superstore is also likely to do damage to the existing Hornbacher's grocery store on 32nd Avenue, and stores like the Cash Wise Foods in neighboring Moorhead, Minnesota. This new superstore is just a few miles from Wal-Mart supercenter #1627 in Dilworth. "We look forward to being the anchor of this new development in Fargo," Wal-Mart's North Dakota market manager told The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. The new site is known as The District, and more retailers are expected to follow Wal-Mart's lead in the development. Wal-Mart claims the store will employ 300 people, and the company says it has received "hundreds and hundreds" of applications. The 186,366 s.f. store is roughly the same size as the supercenter on 13th Avenue in Fargo. Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker told The Forum that the new Wal-Mart was "very beautiful" on the inside and outside. The Mayor said he has family who live nearby, and they have been waiting for a closer store. Apparently a three or four mile drive is too much for the good people of Fargo. Mayor Walaker says the latest superstore is "going to increase competition. There are people that are going to say that it's going to hurt, and so forth, but competition is good."

What you can do: Mayor Walaker knows that Wal-Mart is good for Fargo, because he read it in an October 27th press release from Wal-Mart. "A new Wal-Mart opens this month in Fargo, bringing 300 new jobs, savings for local shoppers and an increase in tax revenue to support the area's economy," the Wal-Mart press release said. "The new Fargo Wal-Mart will employ approximately 300 associates," the company claimed. The press release promises shoppers a cleaner, faster, friendlier store too. "The layout of the store is easy to navigate, which will save our customers time as they shop for everyday necessities," said the superstore manager. "By grouping the products that our customers most often purchase including health and beauty and pet supplies, we are making one-stop shopping even easier." The store also boasts skylights, cement flooring made from recycled materials,
low-flow toilets and faucets reduce the water used in the bathrooms. The only problem with this new superstore is that it wasn't needed in the first place, and is wasting a huge parcel of land that actually could have been used for economic development and new jobs -- instead of low paying retail jobs that put other retailers out of business. The average wage of full-time Wal-Mart workers in North Dakota is $11.15 an hour the company says (the part time wage was not revealed), which means a 36 hour per week worker at the new Fargo store will earn less than $21,000 per year before taxes and withholding. But Fargo will get a new Subway restaurant on the inside of this store, which will make residents very happy, but not Children's Health magazine, which doesn't encourage more fast food restaurants. Readers are urged to contact Mayor Walaker at dwalaker@cityoffargo.com with the following message: "Dear Mayor Walaker, You cut the ribbon at the new, improved Wal-Mart in Fargo, which is now the third store in your city. What are your plans for the discount Wal-Mart store in Fargo that will shut down? You told the media that 'competition is good,' but what will you say to the families who lose their jobs at Hornbacher's or Cash Wise Foods? Do you really believe that Fargo needs more Wal-Marts? This isn't economic development -- it's economic displacement. I know your background isn't in economics, but shopping at local stores will bring more jobs and revenue to Fargo -- and won't leave empty stores behind. And if a Wal-Mart supercenter is 'beautiful,' I'd hate to see what you call ugly."











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

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