Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Welcome Wal-Mart?

Late Tuesday, the City Council to OK'd the 76,000-square-foot expansion that would turn our Wal-Mart into a supercenter.

My impression: A mixed bag for Tracy.

The consistent support for the propsed Wal-Mart grocery softened my initial position that allowing the expansion was nothing but bad news. Many consumers want cheaper food, and retailers in the Grant Line Road corridor see an improved Wal-Mart as a magnet for shoppers.

These are good things.

But many of my original concerns remain unanswered.

Wal-Mart is likely to drive at least one exisiting grocery store out of business. Which is fine, it being the free market and all. And I won't shed a tear over stiffer competition for SaveMart, which has the lion's share of Tracy's grocery market.

But what happens to a shopping center that has its commerical anchor shut down as a result of that competition? It's left with a empty hulk of a hard-to-fill building that will surely drag down the smaller businesses that used to bank on the grocery's drawing power.

That will not be a happy story to report.

Also, remember that in the same corner of town to Wal-Mart is the to-be-built WinCo, already given approval. Add Costco to the mix, and that's three discount grocers within 1½ miles of one another, drawing plenty of traffic away from the city center.

Ah, yes — the traffic. The Grant Line Road corridor is already overmatched at times, especially where Grant Line hits Byron Road just west of town. If you think the area's busy now, just wait until the WinCo and new Wal-Mart are up and running.

The bright side of this vote is that people feel like City Hall understands their need for cheaper goods and more businesses in town.

The dark side is that an economic boom on Grant Line Road might be a bust on Tracy Boulevard.


Mike McLellan, D. Min. said...

Not being sure what a giant Wal-Mart will do, I know that our shopping habits will likely stay the same. 1) We only go to the big box stores infrequently. 2) There is something to be said for convenience and the big box stores are not convenient. They provide little service and it is like shopping in a cattle feed lot. 3) The age old question, "does size really matter" brings me to the 400rolls of toilet paper theory. How much do I want to warehouse and keep around? I prefer going and getting what I need for a week or a month, not getting a three year supply. 4) Yes, I think the big boxers are good places to buy batteries, televisions and party supplies, but I am not sure that they really compete for the average person's dollar. 5) Finally, I certainly agree that it is nice to see the Council make a tough call without taking three years to do it. Maybe Wal-Mart can include a swim center and sports park.

maybenotdumBcommenT said...

I think you are over stating some things Mike. 400 rolls of toilet paper? That is not true, never saw that before. I disagee that the big box stores are not convenient. The part about shopping at them is to browse around and grab things you forgot to put on your list.

The cost and convenience to these three store in close proximinity will be great on gas and time. If it isn't at one place it might be at another. It will be open 24 hours a day and for those emergency situations instead of spending bucks at a 7 Eleven it will be worth it to go to Wal-mart, you know you will pick more stuff up while you are there.

I read up on your other concerns Jon. My opinion is that the owners of thep properties could lower their rent just as I have so I could keep my tenant. I keep the house, I keep a good tenant.

As far as the spotty reputation it may be you are talking about the low pay and no health coverage. I'm not sure. These people that work the have skills and could go to a higher paying store but I have seen the same people working there for years and years. They could move on if they wanted to.

I honestly don't see that corridor as busy as you say except during the commute hours, people can work around it.

And how can it be bad news when us americans need a break?

Savemart drove out business so what goes around comes around. Put all those Savemarts in one spot and you have a huge store. Bigger then Wal-mart