Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Worries About Wal-Mart (SB Sun 012207) Largest U.S. Retailer Meets

Worries about Wal-Mart
Largest U.S. retailer meets some resistance to supercenter plans

Decades-old mom-and-pop stores will close their doors for good. More traffic will be backed up on already-clogged streets.

These are the fears many residents express when a Wal-Mart supercenter is proposed in their neighborhood.

With two supercenters already built and at least 10 more planned for the region, residents are bracing themselves for a battle against the giant retailer as the county looks at the effect such businesses have on the area.

Wal-Mart says the fear about small businesses is not realized when supercenters open, but the San Bernardino County Grand Jury is taking a closer look at that issue as well as the impact on traffic.

"We are engaged in an investigative effort to ascertain how a large retail business, such as Wal-Mart, affects the economic welfare of smaller businesses, as well as car and foot traffic in the surrounding area," the Grand Jury stated in a Dec. 19 letter to the city of Rialto, where a supercenter is proposed.

The Grand Jury - made up of 19 citizens appointed by the San Bernardino County Superior Court to investigate or inquire into county matters - asked Rialto to provide materials, such as environmental-impact reports and other research, to help in its review.  Wal-Mart is not concerned about the inquiry, spokesman Kevin McCall said.

"We believe at the end of the study, the cities are going to find out having a Wal-Mart supercenter with the tax revenue and employment is a positive," he said.

Still, the company faces opposition. An Ontario anti-Wal-Mart Web site - - and fliers with similar sentiments in Highland surfaced when word spread of possible supercenters in those cities.

Location, location

Wal-Mart has 21 supercenters in California with an average store size of 185,000 square feet.

Supercenters, stocked with general merchandise and groceries, started being developed nationally in 1988 as a one-stop family shop.

Last year, two supercenters opened in the region - one in Beaumont, the other in Chino.

In addition to its plans in Ontario, the giant retailer has eyed sites for supercenters in Fontana, Rialto, Highland, Redlands, Apple Valley and Victorville.

Store status

Proposals have been submitted to many cities throughout San Bernardino County, which are looking at how a large retail business, such as Wal-Mart, affects traffic and the economic welfare of smaller businesses.

1. Barstow: Ground will be broken this year on an 880,000-square-foot food-distribution center on 160 acres. The $60 million investment is expected to create 500 full-time jobs.

2. Apple Valley: An environmental-impact report is nearing completion for a 228,000-square-foot supercenter on the property on which Wal-Mart closed escrow in 2005.

3. Victorville: Three plans have been submitted for supercenters at three sites. All three are early in the review process.

4. Fontana: Two proposals have been submitted to build supercenters in the city:

A 235,000-square-foot supercenter proposed in 2005 for the north-side Fontana Promenade site, a shopping and entertainment destination. City officials are working with Wal-Mart to find alternative sites.

A 245,000-square-foot supercenter proposed in December next to the site of a Hilton Garden Inn on the city's south side.

5. Rialto: An environmental-impact report is nearing completion for a 250,000-square-foot supercenter and expected to be available for the public to review in February or March.

6. Ontario: An environmental-impact report is being prepared for a 178,000-square-foot supercenter proposed in 2004.

7. Chino: A remodeled and expanded 234,350-square-foot supercenter opened in August.

8. Highland: Wal-Mart plans to submit an application for a supercenter on land the company purchased in 2006, but it has not yet done so.

9. Redlands: Preliminary plans were submitted in 2005 for a 196,028-square-foot supercenter.

10. Beaumont: A 216,000-square-foot supercenter opened in March.

BS Ranch Perspective:

The size of the stores and the sheer over all, way that the all in one store is just so overwhelming to one shopper. The thought that you can just walk in and get everything at the one store is just so overwhelming to ones thoughts. I know that was what happened to me when I walked into the Superstore in Northern San Bernardino, it was just so big, and just wow. huge. But still the products that Wal-mart has is just a little under par as it comes to the quality of the merchandise. See if you get a DVD player there they have the motors that are not as high quality as the same DVD player that you could get in Sears Store for the same or close to the same model number. They don't sell any other Model number then they do  in the Wal Mart Store.

It is one way that they can put the lower quality Motor's in the Unit's and the lower prices go to that unit. The Guarantee is much lower for that motor in that DVD player, and vertebrally doesn't exist if the thing breaks. That is just one thing that is wrong with the store. It crosses over to vacuum cleaner and well every appliance in their store. they sell only appliances that are special made to that store with special lower quality parts for the sale to the public at a lower price.

BS Ranch

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