business news in context, analysis with attitude

The Washington Post this morning reports that Wal-Mart opened a store in Landover Hills, Maryland, last year “in a storm of controversy … bred in part by its reputation for running small businesses … out of the rural towns and suburbs that for decades were the retailer's breeding ground. There was concern that the so-called Wal-Mart effect would be replicated, if not magnified, once it moved into more urban areas, such as Landover Hills.

“No comprehensive study has been done on Wal-Mart's impact on this stretch of Annapolis Road, the heart of this redeveloping neighborhood. But local proprietors and community leaders say the fears have not panned out. Some say the dour economy is a bigger threat than Wal-Mart. Other store owners credit Wal-Mart for boosting their sales, through both its proximity and community outreach programs.”

While not everybody is satisfied with Wal-Mart’s efforts to support small businesses and the local community, there seems to be a general feeling that the retailer has taken steps not just to address its image problem, but to spur broader economic development around its stores.

KC's View:
That “large oak” line used in the headline isn’t mine…it is a quote from a local retailer down in Maryland. And it is a point worth noting – that by offering products and services different from what Wal-Mart offers, competitors can survive. Thriving may be a little tough, especially in the current economic environment…but right now, survival can be a major victory.