Wal-Mart Helps Improve Neighborhood

May 04, 2004
George Anderson

By George Anderson

Vocal opponents cast Wal-Mart as a soulless goliath that swallows up competitors, destroys jobs, attracts crime and leaves local communities in tatters.

Many people living in South Central Los Angeles would disagree.

According to a commentary on the Business Week Web site, Wal-Mart’s presence at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza in South Central Los Angeles has brought a badly needed service to an underserved community, added jobs, benefited mom and pop businesses, and increased tax revenues for local government.

Wal-Mart’s presence has meant locals no longer have to travel out of the community to buy the goods they need or find jobs. The result has meant more customer traffic for retailers such as There’s Lili’s Wigs, King’s Furniture and Mama’s House (soul food restaurant).

Harold Llecha, a cashier at Hot Looks, a clothier in the area, supports this view. He said, “The traffic is definitely there. We’re seeing more folks.”

Although Wal-Mart is often criticized for paying low wages, the Business Week piece points out the retailer’s wages are generally in line, if not higher, than those being paid by local stores.

Moderator’s Comment: What should Wal-Mart do to gain easier and greater access to urban markets?

The Business Week piece suggests Wal-Mart first needs to develop a plan for moving into cities.

From there, it needs to be willing to listen to local concerns and make adjustments more readily. It suggests being more flexible when it comes to employee
wages and store design as two areas where the retailer could make immediate improvement.

George Anderson – Moderator

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