First Lady Michelle Obama is credited with talking Walmart into stocking more healthy food choices in their stores. The fact is when Walmart sells anything it seems to make it cheaper for the customer. For everyone who shops at Walmart, and for the country as a whole, that is a good thing. Saving money and eating better are a combination rarely experienced in 2011. That news only further complicates the story out of Washington DC where the discount retailer has designs on opening as many as four stores.
As with their efforts to open in New York City, Walmart has met with push-back from the locals, but this time for different reasons. The Washington Post is reporting there are the usual concerns about what the store will sell;
"I'll believe it when I see it," Mya Harris, 24, said skeptically. "Sure, you can put the store here, but what are they going to put inside it?"
This reporter has been in Walmart stores from New Hampshire to Arkansas and the one constant noted (aside from the standard, vest-wearing senior citizen greeters) was that once inside any store, the place was pretty much identical to all the others. Yes there were a few regional differences, but Walmart's success is must be connected to the cost control achieved when you buy products for every single one of their 2500-plus stores.
There was another, very bizarre objection raised by more than one person as well as a local politician;
"There'll probably be a lot of shoplifting going on. They'll need a lot of security," Terriea Sutton, 35, said.
Brenda Speaks, a Ward 4 ANC commissioner, actually urged blocking construction of the planned store in her ward at Georgia and Missouri avenues NW partly because of that risk. Addressing a small, anti-Walmart rally at City Hall on Monday, Speaks said young people would get criminal records when they couldn't resist the temptation to steal.
What? Bringing Walmart to the neighborhood would cause young people to "get criminal records when they couldn't resist the temptation to steal?" Imagine if you tried to apply the same twisted logic to an ice cream parlor, or ANY kind of business.
WaPo reports that the unemployment figures in that part of the District are nearing 20% of the population and Walmart, with the potential to open four large centers in the region, could offer 1200 full time jobs.
Walmart has made it clear that they are listening and talking to the people in the White House. The company stands to make great public relations gains if the healthy food initiative provides affordable, better choices and the new stores bring jobs with fair wages and upward mobility.
DC, let'em in and then maybe NYC will follow suit.