Wal-Mart at the gates

Starpoint The closest you can get to Chapel Hill and Carrboro while still being in Chatham County is Starpoint. The intersection of Smith Level Road and 15-501 is at the county line. Starpoint is also the proposed location of a new Wal-Mart.

Elected officials in Chapel Hill and Carrboro have already asked Chatham County to allow them to conduct a courtesy review. This would allow them to formally have input, although it is not binding. According to the News & Observer "This is the first I've heard about that," Morgan said when asked about Chapel Hill's plans to request a review. "I didn't know they did that type of stuff."

Which is exactly why we should be very worried.

OP reader WillR shared the contact info of the company that proposes to build this "retail development... big enough for a Wal-Mart." You may also want to drop a line to good old Bunkey Morgan and let him know about this new-fangled democracy that may be coming his way.

Lee-Moore Oil Company
PO Drawer 9
Sanford, NC 27331
(919) 775-2301
(919) 774-6967


You are correct in your analysis of the fragmented 'site-specific' nature of the TIA. It appears that the assumptions are based on projections based on existing land-use plans (which in this case do not reflect the scale and impact of Briar Chapel), and do not reflect the aggregate effect. To this end, just got off the phone with Mark Ahrendsen at the MPO---They're reviewing the documents (interesting story about how they had to obtain 'em), checking the assumptions, and will present some preliminary information at the August 10 TAC meeting. In our discussion, Mark agreed that the best way to come up with a meaningful analysis would be to consider the cumulative impacts as you've described. Not sure how much we'll have by the 28th, but we'll keep you posted.

As to what direct leverage the MPO has in influencing the granting or denial of driveway permits is unclear in the wide, weird world of DOT bureaucracy. But, we do have powerful analytical tools and resources to present an objective picture to DOT, the local governments and the public of what all this really means.


Interesting how the vote has changed since this morning when 50 or so people had voted:

How do you feel about the prospect of Wal-Mart coming to Northern Chatham County?

No thanks. 16%
I can't wait. 83%
I couldn't care less. 1%
I don't know. 0%
Total Votes: 278

Question to ponder: how many of the likely patrons don't have a computer and if they do, don't vote in such polls?

Curiously Alex, those projections came from DOT! All Ramey did was taken DOT growth projections through 2020 and stick them into a formula--also specified by DOT. It's a little disheartening that the plan got through 2 review cycles without this being caught. When we look at growth within Orange County, is there one projection that is used by all 3 towns, OWASA and the county? Does DOT/DENR/DWQ use our county estimates or do they have their own? This is the same problem we are running into with the homelessness planning--every agency/non profit uses different data and most don't specify the source.

The same poll question in Chatham:

How do you feel about the prospect of Wal-Mart coming to Northern Chatham County?
I can't wait. 37 % (18)
No thanks. 50 % (24)
I couldn't care less. 110 % (5)
I don't know. 2 % (1)

Seems like Chathamites are a lot more progressive than we are (unless someone went into the CH News poll with an agenda and voted multiple times....)

Maybe a little Ballot-stuffing from Bentonville? Maybe the folks in the computer sales section were given a new duty today? Hmmmm?

While I can't speak to DENR or DWQ methodology, DOT and MPO projections are based on adopted zoning and land-use plans as submitted by the counties and municipal governments.
These are broken into small geographic nodes known as 'Transportation Analysis Zones' : Trip generation estimates for each TAZ are based on formulae according to
use and plugged into a model, which uses a complex matrix of assumptions to spit out the final data.

The model we use at DCHC is known as the 'Triangle Regional Model', which is maintained by the TRM Service Bureau---a cooperative entity of DCHC, CAMPO, TTA, and NCDOT, organized under the Institute for Transportation Research and Education(ITRE) at N.C. State.

An inherent problem is that while the model, and tha data entered into it are periodically updated (and constantly under adjustment), this system operates in a very fluid environment: Land-use plans and zoning are frequently changed, and as we've seen, what happens on the ground may not comport with the adopted plans (i.e. they may simply be ignored by the adopting jurisdictions in the issuance of new permits). So, in short, regional projections are only as good as the information provided by the counties, and their adherence to it.

So, insofar as it applies to the Wal-Mart episode, since the use (Mondo-Big-Box Retail) contemplated does not fit the on-the-ground zoning, and recently approved permits, that again, were not reflected in the adopted land-use plans, may not yet have been plugged in, it's likely that the projections in the Long-Range-Transportation Plan do not reflect the true impact---That's what Ahrendsen and company are going to find out.

As for Orange County, as far as I know, all of the planning departments coordinate their growth projections with O.C. planning, which serves as the central repository, and at least in the southern end of the county, is organized under the Joint Planning Area Land Use Plan (Maybe Mark M. can shed some light on how OWASA uses this data).

Disclaimer: what I've described above is a gross oversimplification of how this system works, and undoubtedly rife with omissions, but hopefully provides a general understanding of how these sorts of situations occur.


I'm wondering how long Wal-Mart has been a WUNC sponsor. I haven't been listening to WUNC much lately and I only heard the Wal-Mart plug today. A while ago, I read that Wal-Mart had become an NPR sponsor on other stations, but I didn't know they were here.

Mary, WUNC's list of business sponsors was updated 12/04/05 and does not include Wal-Mart.

Could you have heard Wal-Mart's tagline for a national NPR program that was airing locally on WUNC? Was it that deep voice of corporate sponsors? Or a WUNC DJ reading a line or two?

Hmmm... good question... I wasn't really listening to the show... it was around 1:30 and I was searching for a CD to put in... You are probably right about the tagline,

Isn't OP great--- like Ian on the other thread, I can reveal my lack of understanding about the way things work, and feel grateful that someone graciously clues me in!

On the other hand, Wal-Mart is sponsoring this show so that its ads can be heard here, and WUNC is paying for the show...

Considering FAIR's (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting) recent article (following up on previous criticism of Wal-marts possible undue influence on NPR) ,maybe Joan S. can clue us in on the discussions she participated in earlier this year, sponsored by the Review Council on Standards for National Underwriting Credits, where

The Council discussed underwriting from the Wal-Mart Corporation. It was decided that Wal-Mart is acceptable as a corporate sponsor.

It's interesting that Advocacy Groups got a couple grafs of discussion

To focus the discussion on advocacy groups, Joan Sieffert Rose, General Manager WUNC Chapel Hill, was asked to present the issues and lessons learned concerning the IPAS credit that received regional and national attention. Joan did an excellent job presenting what is still a very difficult situation for the staff of WUNC. The issues centered on what are acceptable organizations and what is acceptable language. With regard to the actual organization that is considered acceptable, the Council took note of the fact that stations and producers can reject any group they want to; however, public relations concerns are also important. We discussed the hypothetical issue of accepting support from Planned Parenthood, but maybe rejecting a similar offer from the National Rifle Association. The Standards call for applying a "reasonable listener standard", but that probably needs further definition.

where the standards for acceptable copy were described thus

With regard to acceptable copy from advocacy groups, the Standards are clear about "announcement(s) (that) express an opinion on matters of public concern or otherwise advocate positions on controversial matters". What is to one person a description of the organization's activity; to another person it may be a controversial statement.

Yet the discussion on Controversial Companies got a bit lighter treatment, though it was fairly obvious "copy" from Wal-mart made it a "problematic" sponsor (an argument bit of history at NPR).

Current corporate sponsor copy that describes treatment of employees and the companies importance to communities they serve was contracted before the Standards went into effect.

That copy may not be acceptable today[01/05/05] using the Standards for National Underwriting Credits. All producers and stations were advised to make sure there is language in their underwriting contracts that allows for a mandatory change in credit language or the cancellation of the contract if there are substantive changes. The collapse of Enron was used as an example. But a company working its way through any public relations problem would also fall under this consideration.

Like Mary, I also thought I heard the Wal-mart blather recently on NPR. Further, from what I recall of their "tagline" (as Joan noted it might be), the spot seems to have contravened these previously discussed guidelines.

As NPR's ombudsman acknowledges, "credibility is, in the final analysis, the only really currency" of their organization.

In light of WUNC's standing as a (maybe "the") flagship of NPR, it would be great if Joan S. clarified the local situation - it's a good way to bank some more currency.

Walmart has been a sponsor on WUNC since at least August. Glad to hear someone else is finally concerned.

An AP piece that appeared in today's N&O

"Wal-Mart backing group of defenders"

Thanks Will.

When NCWARN paid WUNC for a spot publicizing their forum on energy last fall, WUNC would not allow NCWARN's message to use the word "expert" to describe Amory Lovins.

And a number of anti-Wal-Mart groups are funded by labor unions.

Not exactly disinterested third-parties on either side

Mary, I don't think WUNC has any choice in who sponsors national NPR programs. And, honestly, I think it'd be silly for WUNC to not buy, say, Morning Edition because Wal-Mart is an underwriter.

I guess I'm not clear on why it's a problem that Wal-Mart supports public radio.

Just to be clear: I am not Joan Siefert Rose!

Terri, I looked through the other thread and saw your post from 8/13. But while we may *hear* something on WUNC, that still doesn't mean they are underwriting WUNC locally. I think this is an important distinction. For example, national NPR gets support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Archer Daniels Midland, and NPR. But I haven't heard a local sponsorship announcement (which would be done in the voice of a WUNC DJ).

The question I would ask Joan: Will NPR programs sponsored by Wal-Mart compromise their reporting on Wal-Mart or avoid reporting on Wal-Mart altogether?

Mary, I see your concern, but it sounds like your issue then is with the integrity of NPR's reporting staff (why would NPR treat Wal-Mart any differently than any of their other underwriters?). I'm sure NPR, like most media outlets, has separate underwriting and news departments. The NPR news anchors don't read the underwriting announcements--I imagine so that, conceivably, they might not even be aware of who their underwriters are.

So is your concern about how NPR treats Wal-Mart in particular? Or how every media outlet that relies on advertising treats their advertisers?

I'm looking at this from a slightly different viewpoint.

When ADM's tagline comes on about being the "supermarket to the world", is it necessary for NPR to comment on the strange hypocrisy of that statement? How often should NPR note that ADM and its extensively gene-modded product, for instance, is definitely not a wanted by a significant part of the world's market or that its price-fixing practices are distinctly different from a "Mom-n-Pop" supermarket operation?

Does ADM's or Wal-mart's money influence the news operation? Some folk think so...and while their inferences seem solid, I'm not prepared to endorse them wholeheartedly.

Does the proximity of their taglines to the "news product" diminish that product? Probably only to folks that think about the casual Orwellian inversions practiced by the Wal-marts and ADMs of the world.

In the end, though, if, as Shoaf says, "advertising is the art of making whole lies out of half-truths", then maybe the worst outcome of NPR's "lending" their "currency" (credibility) to these underwriters is the way it turns half-lies into whole truths.

Slightly off-topic but has anyone else heard the new hearing-aid ad on WCHL? It starts with the statement (paraphrasing here as I've only heard this once so far) "This news report sponsored by Such-n-Such Hearing Aid" and then follows with a "news report" about the Such-n-Such Hearing Aid.

Will, I think your questions are totally reasonable, and for the record, I really hate the underwriting announcements too (I do support public radio as well). I just wondered why Wal-Mart in particular would be singled out. I hate that "supermarket to the world" thing. Then again, it's such a weird phrase to be almost meaningless.

Will, do you have the same concerns about, for example, broadcast news, be it on CNN or NBC?

Will, where in your construct would you put the ad stating "Everyone Votes Raymond for Council?"

Joan, my concern is over your question #2: "Or how every media outlet that relies on advertising treats their advertisers?"

I don't think I'm going out on a limb to suggest that media sometimes edit or pull stories that might offend sponsors.

Why am I singling out Wal-Mart?--- because I know more about Wal-Mart than the other NPR sponsors... Am I not being fair?... depends on your point of view...

Joan, I expect less from Fox or MSNBC or CNN. They don't advertise themselves as "public broadcasting". Their charter doesn't say their fundamental purpose is "to provide programs and services which inform, enlighten and enrich the public." Or to "provide programs and services...to enhance the knowledge, and citizenship, and inspire the imagination of all Americans...[by encouraging]...the development of programming that involves creative risks and that addresses the needs of unserved and underserved audiences, particularly children and minorities."

In fact, their charter (at least as currently implemented) seems to be to maximize their corporate owners profits by entertaining the largest possible segment of the viewing population to the regular detriment of good citizenship using poor information in an unimaginative format.

I expect more from WUNC, so I measure its efforts differently.

BTW, according to the 2005 WUNC audit, contributions were up $2M from last year bringing in $6.6M total. A part of the $2M increase in the capital improvements budget was attributed to strong continued growth in corporate giving.

It's nice that corporations are contributing.

For me, the way WUNC "positions" their underwriters and the apparent lack of fiscal transparency (at least as far as breaking out who/what/where) undercuts their credibility (or to use their metaphor - devalues their "currency").

As reported in the LA Times:

An Oakland jury Thursday awarded $172 million to 116,000 current and former employees of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in the first of dozens of wage and hour class-action lawsuits targeting the giant retailer to go to trial.

Attorney Fred Furth, right, who represented employees of Wal-Mart, talks with Wal-Mart attorney Neal Manne outside of the Alameda County courthouse in Oakland, Calif., Thursday, Dec. 22, 2005. An Alameda County jury on Thursday awarded $172 million to thousands of California employees at Wal-Mart Stores Inc. who claimed they were illegally denied lunch breaks. The world's largest retailer was ordered to pay $57 million in general damages and $115 million in punitive damages to about 116,000 current and former California employees for violating a 2001 state law that requires employers to give 30-minute, unpaid lunch breaks to employees who work at least six hours.

Ahh, Walmart is such an easy target. No one else treats their people like that, right?

John, are you saying that illegally denying tens of thousands of workers their lunch breaks is acceptable to you? Or are you saying that your standard is that no criminal should be held accountable if others might remain unpunished?

This is not a question of some moralistic judgment of Wal-Mart. They are guilty of breaking the law. That makes them criminals. Do you do business with criminals?

Dan- Yes, yes and yes. That is the answer you are looking for, right? It would be a waste of electrons to argue otherwise.

Wonder what the lawyers fee was?

Merry Christmas

Dan, does that mean you're happy with the fining of the union up in NYC that cost the city more than $1 billion and threatened jobs and emergency services with the gridlock from the illegal strike? After all, they are guilty of braking the law...

Yeah, they messed up, but that doesn't really have any bearing on whether they should come in around here. We don't have that law. Not exactly a mark in their favor, but also not exactly a reason in and of itself to fight a Wally World from coming in to provide inexpensive quality goods 24 hours a day.

"Messed up"? We're talking about 116,000 workers "in the first of dozens of wage and hour class-action lawsuits targeting the giant retailer to go to trial."

Thankfully, in this country, you are innocent until proven guilty. Except of course sometimes in the press......

I wonder if they have pictures of the employers holding guns to the heads of the employees, forcing them to remain working at their store their against their will, and under such extreme circumstances? And if so, will it be admissible as evidence in the lawsuit? What a heinous crime, working thru lunch.

Merry Christmas folks!


Are you arguing that low-wage earners have no right to lunch? Are you saying that the only force that could possibly be used against an employee is as blatant as a gun to the head? Should retail workers have any labor rights against management?

According to recent news reports, you will be applying for the open position on the Carrboro Board of Alderman. Will you be making any effort to ensure protection of the rights of the low-wage earners who work for Carrboro? (They will be your employees!)

Terri- No, No and Yes. Although I don't think labor "against" management is the way I like to think of it.

The point I was trying to make is that no one is forced to stay at a job if conditions are really bad. If my employer forced me to work without a break I would leave. If it was really that bad, then they should have left too.

I am not advocating breaking the law by any stretch. If they broke the law they should be punished. I just wonder if it was such a wide spread abuse- I cannot imagine 100k+ employees doing without a break on a regular basis. Of course it IS possible.

If I ever go to work for Carrboro as an Alderman, I would expect those in direct management of any and all workers to treat their employees as the law requires. If there were ever a violation of the law I would expect the manager to pay the consequences. Perhaps most important is to make sure the managers are aware of the laws, it is possible Walmart did not do so if the suit has any merit.

Merry Christmas

FYI, "Is Wal-Mart Good for America?" is on Frontline this evening (Jan. 3rd, 2006). More info here.

Interesting analysis on "big boxes" affect on the local economy via dent and Rawstory .

During the election I "won" over a voter that initially dismissed me on the grounds I opposed "big boxes" for Chapel Hill by pointing out that I'd rather have 10-20 local businesses in the same footprint. This analysis calculates the local business folks cycle $44.60 of each $100 collected back into their communities while "big box" cycles $14.10.

I'd argue that local business folks roots run deeper, are more giving and are more apt to reflect the community's values.

You don't suppose the fact that the organization doing the research includes Douglas Dority among its "Founders and Advisors" makes a difference in its findings do you?

In 2004 Douglas Dority retired as President of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union after "40 years of union service."

It is a fairly long list of dangerous folk - Friedan, Hightower, Jackson, Ehrenreich, Hayden, Osterman.

Founders and Advisors: Campaign for America's Future and Institute for America's Future

An asterisk (*) indicates this advisor's writing can be found on the website shown.

Gar Alperovitz - National Center for Economic Alternatives
Ira Arlook - New Economy Communications
John Atlas - National Housing Institute
* Morton Bahr - Communication Workers of America
Peter Barnes - Redefining Progress/Working Assets
Ann Beaudry - People for the American Way
George Becker - United Steelworkers of America
Berkley Bedell - Former Member of Congress
Lara Bergthold - Act III Communications
Paul Berman
Jules Bernstein
Mary Frances Berry - US Commission on Civil Rights
Susan Bianchi- Sand -National Committee on Pay Equity
Moe Biller - American Postal Workers Union
Norman Birnbaum - Georgetown University Law Center
Arthur Blaustein - U.C., Berkeley
Barry Bluestone - Northeastern University, Boston
Julian Bond - NAACP Board Chair
Heather Booth - Founder Midwest Academy
Robert Borosage - Campaign for America's Future
Jim Braude - Critical Mass Media
Thomas Buffenbarger - Machinists Union
Marc Caplan - Northeast Action
David Carley -
Hodding Carter
John Cavanagh - Institute for Policy Studies
Bob Chase - National Education Association
Richard Cloward - Columbia University
* Jeff Cohen - FAIR
Mitchell Cohen - Dissent, Co-Editor
Barry Commoner - Queens College
Ken Cook - Environmental Working Group
G. William Domhoff - U.C., Santa Cruz
Douglas H. Dority - United Food and Commercial Workers
Peter Dreier - Occidental College
Dudley Dudley - Women Legislator's Lobby
* Barbara Ehrenreich - Writer
Robert Eisner - Northwestern University
Jeff Faux - Economic Policy Institute
Diane Feldman - The Feldman Group
Edward Fire - International Union of Electronic Workers
Dick Flacks - U.C., Santa Barbara
Nancy Folbre - University of Mass. Amherst
Steve Fraser - Houghton Mifflin
Betty Friedan
Jeannette Galanis - US Student Association
* James K. Galbraith - Univ. of Texas/LBJ School
Herbert Gans - Columbia University
Paul Gaston - University of Virginia
Thomas Geoghegan - Author, Which Side Are You On?
Todd Gitlin - New York University
Chester Hartman - PRRAC
Heidi Hartmann - Inst. for Women's Policy Research
Tom Hayden - California Legislature
Denis Hayes - Earth Day founder
Roger Hickey - Campaign for America's Future
* Jim Hightower - Hightower Radio
Adam Hochschild
Patricia Ireland - National Organization for Women
Amy Isaacs - Americans for Democratic Action
* Jesse L. Jackson - Rainbow Coalition
Christopher Jencks - Northwestern University
Jaqueline Jones - Brandeis University
Michael Kazin - Author, Populist Persuasion
Jackie Kendall - Midwest Academy
Charles Knight - Commonwealth Institute
George Kourpias
Jonathan Kozol
David Kusnet - Former White House speechwriter
* Robert Kuttner - American Prospect
Rev. Peter Laarman - Judson Memorial Church
Thea Lee - AFL-CIO, Assistant Director of Public Policy
Nelson Lichtenstein - University of Virginia
Judith Lichtman - National Partnership for Women and Families
David Liederman - Child Welfare League of America
Rev. Joseph Lowery - Southern Christian Leadership Conf.
Ray Marshall - University of Texas-Austin, Former Secretary of Labor
Steve Max - Midwest Academy
Jay Mazur - UNITE
Michael McCloskey - Environmentalist
Gerald W. McEntee - AFSCME
Howard Metzenbaum - US Senator (retired)
Harold Meyerson - LA Weekly
S.M. Miller - Commonwealth Institute
Lawrence Mishel - Economic Policy Institute
Nan Grogan Orrock - Women Legislator's Lobby, GA House of Representatives
Paul Osterman - MIT/Sloan School of Management
Maurice S. Paprin - Fund for New Priorities in America
Richard Parker - Harvard University
Wallace Peterson - University of Nebraska
Frances Fox Piven
Ron Pollack - Families USA Foundation
Robert Pollin - University of Massachussetts- Amherst
Steve Protulis - National Council of Senior Citizens
Miles Rapoport - Democracy Works, Former Connecticut Secretary of State
* Robert Reich - Brandeis University, Former Secretary of Labor
Frank Riessman - Social Policy
Mark Ritchie - Inst for Agriculture and Trade Policy
Dennis Rivera - Health and Human Service Employees
Cecil Roberts - United Mine Workers of America
Joel Rogers - University of Wisconsin
Richard Rorty - University of Virginia
Sumner Rosen - Jobs for All
* Richard Rothstein
Lillian Rubin - Institute for the Study of Social Change
Arlie Schardt - Environmental Media Services
Tom Schlesinger - Financial Markets Center
Susan Shaer - Women's Action for New Direction
Stanley Sheinbaum
Jack Sheinkman - ADA President
John Simmons - Participation Associates
Theda Skocpol - Harvard University
Francis Smith - GreenVote
Paul Soglin
Andrew Stern - Service Employees International Union
* John J. Sweeney - AFL-CIO
Linda Tarr- Whelan -Center for Policy Alternatives
John E. Taylor - Nat'l Community Reinvestment Coalition
Ellen Teninty - Just Economics
Robert Theobald - Dynamic Learning Consortium
Richard Trumka - AFL-CIO
Katherine Villers - Families USA Foundation
Philippe Villers - Families USA Foundation
Ron Walters
University of Maryland
Michael Walzer - Dissent, Co-Editor
Roger Wilkins - George Mason University
Linda Faye Williams - University of Maryland
William Julius Wilson - JFK School of Government
Leslie R. Wolfe - Center for Women Policy Studies
Stephen P. Yokich - United Auto Workers

Can you tell me which are NOT predisposed to opposing Wal-Mart at every turn?

Walmart isn't coming here for the third time(-New Hope Commons and Hillsborough being one and two) unless it makes financial sense to them. On the surface, it makes financial sense to me that they place a store south of town, my gosh-then we will be surrounded!!

I would shop there instead of New Hope Commons if it were more convenient, and I think the overwhelming majority of Chathamites (?) would agree. It is a long haul to either of the other stores now from our friends south of the border.

If you don't like Walmart, then there is always the option of not shopping there. Whether they are "evil" or not does not really matter to the general population, I would guess.

I must say that their business model is very interesting and clever based on what little I have read. No wonder they are larger in size financially than many countries!

The real shame is that they will not likely site in Carrboro, which would lower the tax burden on homeowners like myself. Driving around town, I don't see anywhere that would be suitable for such a large store. So, the tax bucks will go to Durham and Orange (and possibly Chatham) Counties.

I guess this means I need "everyday low prices" to save my money for property taxes????

Yours in Curmudgeon-ness-

John Kramer

While this study appears ideologically slanted to me, exaggerating the differential between local and "big box" recycling of community dollars, it does get the basic point correct - local business plunges more of its revenue back into the local community, by a factor of at least 2 to 4, depending on which study you go by. Further, numerous longitudinal studies show local business sinks deeper roots into the community, is more generous per unit revenue, gives more in-kind aid, etc. than the large retailers. I believe locally owned business is more apt to either share or be influenced by local values than large retailers.

Given that, JohnK, wouldn't it best for Carrboro to encourage 10,15,20 local businesses over a "big box"? I imagine the tax generation multiplier of that additional recycled revenue would both outweigh the "big box" retailer and provide a much more reliable/sustainable stream overtime (look at Wal-Mart in Hillsborough - here today, gone tomorrow).

When you become our next curmudgeon alderman, will you support commercial development up this way?

There are 3 sites on Homestead that may be designated commercial (one across from Claremont, one just east of Wexford, and one west of Wexford extending to LHF). As alderman, how will you conclude that your decision to go commercial has been just and fair?

I wish your application Godspeed on Terri's scoring rubric… I hear it's brutal…

Will--Assuming those 10-20 stores replicated what one can PURCHASE at a WalMart--your supposition would make sense.


That DOESN'T seem to be the sort of retail Carrboro (or Chapel Hill) encourages. No, Carrboro and CH are replete with (hyperbole alert!) high end doggie goods, coffee shops, and expensive camping gear stores. The only decent Roses left years ago (it's a Food Lion now).

Now, I'll admit--I'm a Target girl m'self--when I hit the Big Box. When I need a bunch of disparate stuff I'll drive out to one of the Targets in Durham. I'd MUCH rather spend my money in OC--but the Hillsboro WM is farther for me than Target.

I did manage to do all my Christmas shopping in Chapel Hill/Carrboro-- with the exception of one trip to Southpoint to FYE (I miss the FYE at UMall!)for a movie that Borders was out of. SO perhaps my quarterly forays to Target can be forgiven...


Excellent points Melanie. The mix is quite important, that's why I expressed concern before, during (and after) the election on the mix of retail envisage for Lot #5. Instead of a bunch of boutiques, we need (if we're going to do the project) an anchor - a grocery store - to improve the mix Downtown.

WillR- as a once-small business owner, I know that I was much more approachable in supporting the Efland Ruritans than Walmart would be, you will get no arguement from me there. How much money is returned to the community is another issue, and more complex.

If Walmart does $10M versus $3M for a dozen or so local firms then the local government will have that much more to spend on local things, with no strings attached (as they would perhaps be with the local businesses doing the donating). This is a guess but based on the different breadth in products offered but I cannot see it being way out of line.

There are other intangibles that come into play also. Walmart would employ people that may not be employed at other local, smaller firms that have fewer staff that need more diverse skills. Own your own business, and you will see all of the hats you have to wear.
Shoot, they provide RV hookups for travelers, free of charge (do they intend to kill local camp sites, I think not).

I am not saying that Walmart is the do-all and end-all, but to slam them out of hand or based on biased information is not right, either. No, I do not want them to drive out small local businesses, but at least around here I do not see a lot of overlap in market where that would be a problem.

As far as here today, gone tomorrow, 90+ percent of all small businesses fail within the first five or so years, so I am not sure it really matters who pulls into town.

Mary, I am not sure Carrboro is ready for a curmudgeon like me, do you? Time will tell I guess. I still have time to apply for the position, after all. I am, I must say, struggling with the 5 year plan analysis, but that is another talk show.

I for one would LOVE to have a more local store for groceries. As an engineer, I can do the math required for fuel savings versus perhaps even a little higher cost of a more convenient product. My guess is there are very few folks at Hogan's farm who would drive past one grocery store to hit another (no offense, Weaver St Market).

I am not sure where "just and fair" comes into it. For me it would be a business decision as to whether the town's inhabitants would benefit from the commercial businesses being located up here. If the dollars work then I am for it. It should not be an emotional decision in my opinion, as the term "just and fair" implies to me.

As to Terry's scoring rubric, I am without fear.

Yours in perpetual rant-hood

John Kramer

Shouldn't new businesses provide goods/services AND employment opportunities? I fail to see the benefit of using increasingly scarce land in commercially zoned areas of Chapel Hill/Carrboro for a large employer that pays minimum wages, creates massive stormwater problems, and adds to the human service needs of its employees (lack of health insurance).

Since Mary thinks so highly of my suggestion for a scoring rubric, here's another. I'd like to see our local governments give points (planning, zoning, etc) to potential employers who pay a living wage and contribute something toward health insurance.

Yes, it should provide employment services! But, there are people who need the jobs that such large stores provide (part time, lower wage etc). As I said, I don't see there being commerically viable real estate in Carrboro, at least for a large store like Walmart. Time will tell.

Interestingly enough, when you talk about stormwater runoff, I recently read about a new pavement that is porous (and allows stormwater to soak in) and suitable for parking lots. Now there's a good engineering solution to a sticky problem! I hope it becomes more widely used, then it would not be so bad when we pave paradise.

The idea of a scoring system is truly an excellent one, Terri! The question is, does the local government have the control over a given piece of land necessary to enforce such a system? I am no expert on this but if the land is alredy zoned for a store, is there anything the local government can do to prevent someone from building one based on such a score? Perhaps someone in this group can speak to that.

It would be interesting to score some of the existing local stores:
Harris Teeter? Weaver St Mkt? The car wash? Mini Marts? Wendy's? Open Eye (I think that is what it is called)? Southern States? Dollar General?

I doubt the data is there to prepare such an analysis but it would be interesting!

Have a good weekend-

John Kramer

"This analysis calculates the local business folks cycle $44.60 of each $100 collected back into their communities while “big box” cycles $14.10."

I find it interesting (but not at all surprising) that the analysis does not address the increased purchasing power of that $100 spent at Wal-Mart.

The "local business folks" were able to "cycle" that additional $30 into their communities because they provided less goods to their customers than Wal-Mart did for the same $100.

That would be part of the story Allan. Another part would be that stores like Weaver Street buy more from local supliers. Sam's club doesn't sell Mapel View milk or localy grown vegatabels. Another factor is the local professional help. Local stores hire accountants and lawyers localy. They hire local architects. Walmart has that work done in Bentenville. Further, big box stores have a lower percent of revenue going to labor costs. A store like Taraget keeps thier cashiers fairly busy compaired to a store like Murder Mart on W. Rosemary. Labor costs are local for the most part so the local multiplier effect would be greater for high labor cost firms.

None of that means that I don't like big box stores or never shop at them. All I'm saying is that the economics are a lot more then just low prices. I also, in fairness, note that Allen never said anything of the sort.

Economics is the study of how to allocate scarce resources. To that end, it's around for consumers, not producers. Whatever gives the most to consumers for the same cost should be viewed as superior.

Economists aren't here to figure out how to create or save jobs as an end. It's all about raising the standard of living of everyone, not just the mom and pop shop's owners.

And remember: Wal-Mart was a mom and pop store, too. And I would question anyone who thinks that the location of the business owner's residence really has much impact on the community.



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