business news in context, analysis with attitude

Sometimes the media (MNB included) gets so wrapped up in the anti-Wal-Mart drumbeat that we can hear in various places around the country that it is worth paying attention to some of the different drummers out there.

For example…

  • There was an interesting piece in The Columbus Dispatch last week that chronicled the opening of a new supercenter in London, Ohio. According to the paper, "London has, for the most part, been free of the 'no big-box store' campaigns, like those in Newark, Westerville and Liberty Township. The land on which the 197,000-square-foot Wal-Mart sits in London has been zoned for such a store since the mid-1990s."

    And when the store opened, consumer showed up in droves, a local high school band played "Louie, Louie," the mayor cut the ribbon, and Wal-Mart served pieces of patriotic-themed cake, even though its was 7:30 a.m. It all, the Dispatch reported, "was designed to generate goodwill for the retailer, which often is derided as a killer of downtown shopping and a contributor to urban sprawl."

  • The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the anti-Wal-Mart feelings in Contra Costa County are hardly unanimous. Contra Costa is the place where the board of supervisors approved a ban on supercenters and bog box stores - a ban that will be voted on in a referendum in March.

    But now, Wal-Mart reportedly has found a number of local politicians in Contra Costa towns and cities who are against the ban. The Chronicle reports that "the names of more than a half-dozen elected officials from Antioch, San Ramon, Walnut Creek, San Pablo and Oakley appear on letters sent to registered voters by Contra Costa Consumers for Choice."

    While the proposed ban charges that supercenters cause traffic and overcrowding, the argument isn’t subscribed to by some local politicians. San Ramon Vice Mayor Dave Hudson, for example, who is running for county supervisor, said, "To protect open space by not allowing a big-box store is just wrong." Hudson also said that the taxes generated by such a store would far outweigh whatever traffic issues might crop up.

    The Chronicle notes that the opposition to the ban is being organized by the Contra Costa Consumers for Choice, a group "heavily funded" by Wal-Mart.

KC's View:
Of course, Wal-Mart still manages to kick up controversy for a variety of reasons.

In Madison County, Alabama, for example, there is a bit of an argument going on because a proposed Wal-Mart would obscure a cemetery containing the graces of Revolutionary War soldiers.

Which is deemed to be more significant than the graves of all the retailers the store is likely to put out of business…