The 'Walmart effect' on Main Street

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Smith’s Marketplace offers a beautiful place for “one-stop” shopping. Enjoy any meal and a delicious selection of chocolate, ice cream and cake for dessert. Afterwards, shop from an impressive selection of organic foods, clothes, toys, pet supplies, electronics and household goods. Keep people from driving to Santa Fe? How about keep people from driving down to our local restaurants, CB Fox, Metzgers, Pet Pangaea, Radio Shack and the Los Alamos Co-op Market? This will be the “Walmart effect” on Main Street.
Studies show that when Walmart moves in, small businesses close their doors, unable to compete with big retail’s buying power. Within two years of Walmart’s opening its doors, 82 local stores went out of business. Mom and Pop stores experience a 10 to 40 percent decline in sales after a Walmart opens and businesses within one mile of a Walmart Supercenter have a 25 percent chance of shutting down in the first year, a 40 percent chance by the second year.
Every small business must seriously evaluate its business model in order to survive. The businesses must study the Marketplace, and redesign their inventories accordingly. They need to complement the Marketplace, filling in the missing gaps. Restaurants must expand their operating hours and set themselves them apart through customer service and specialty foods.
Our Mom and Pops must offer something unique and personalized to keep from shutting down.
Further, the county must take specific actions to support the entire business community. I have personally urged members of the County Council to survey every small business, asking: “What would most help your business grow?” Please, no unnecessary obstacles and excessive regulatory burdens!
Lastly, all citizens must make a concerted effort to support Main Street.
Let’s regularly set aside days where we use our wonderful restaurants and shops. They are the pillars of our community! Only then will we have a successful, thriving, diverse business community, which includes Smith’s Marketplace.
Lisa Shin
Los Alamos