Wal-Mart and the Death of Term Paper

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Shopping in small, Mom -- and Pop stores here is more an activity to pasture for you daily staff of life. These are spots to pasture psyches, for society, for support." (Ibid)


The work of Jane Londerville entitled: "Retail Services in Rural Towns: Measuring the Impact of Changes in Retail Environment" relates the fact that retail structure is undergoing rapid change in "both urban and rural settings." (2000) the big box store format has a strategy of construction on land that is cheaper and orders larger quantities of products while employing fewer workers in order to "make greater margins on their sales." (Londerville, 2000) the work of Stone (1995) is related in the work of Londerville. Stone (1995) measured the impact of several categories of retail sales in communities in Iowa that have had a Wal-Mart constructed as compared to those who have not. This study was continually updated each year between 1988 and 1993. Stone uses a calculation he refers to as a 'pull-factor' similar to a location quotient however, "based on retail sales rather than employment." (Londerville, 2000) Stone's study focuses on towns with populations between 5,000 and 30,000 and makes the following conclusions:

1) the year after Wal-Mart opens, towns experience an overall increase in their pull factor, but this levels off somewhat over time as the novelty of the Wal-Mart declines and as more Wal-Marts or their competitors open within the market area. Surprisingly, 25% of the Wal-Mart towns experience a drop in their pull factor after 2-3 years from what it was before the Wal-Mart opened. In the Wal-Mart towns, stores operating in categories that compete with Wal-Mart suffered declines in their pull factors. Retailers offering products or services complementary to Wal-Mart's experienced an increase in their pull factor. Presumably shoppers come to Wal-Mart and stay in town to eat or buy gas;

2) for the towns with no Wal-Mart, the pull factor declined for all categories except food stores. The decline for these communities is greater now than it was when Stone began his study, possibly as a result in the increase in the density of Wal-Mart stores and other big box retailers in the area; and 3) When he measures pull factors after five years, sales in small towns (under 5,000 population) that are within 20 miles of a Wal-Mart store, experienced sales declines of 25.4% versus 17.6% for those further away." (Londerville, 2000)the work of Dahms (1985) examines how the "functions of various Ontario municipalities have changed since the turn of the century..." debunking common myths surrounding rural employment. Dahms provides a description for what he refers to as "specialized towns" and indicates that specialization is strategic survival for these towns, whether this strategy be "conscious or evolutionary." (Londerville, 2000)

Dahms notes that shoppers in these small towns have a 'Saturday routine' (Londerville, 2000) This routine is stated to involve the visiting of "a number of stores in a particular sequence, perhaps with a stop for coffee or a meal part way through. These routines are part of daily life and the quality of the interaction with salespersons affects the shopper's assessment of satisfaction with the transactions..." And this speaks again toward the theme of cultural heritage within a town or community and the quality of life in that town. Specifically on this particular point Londerville states: "The retail sector in a community provides an important component of the informal social structure of the community; it allows residents to interact in an unplanned way and to discuss issues facing the town." (2000)


In a report of a summit concerning economic development in Guelph and Waterloo it was stated by Gerry Thompson that a great need for "more efficient municipal governance" existed who noted "that the two tiers of local government can be too cumbersome a way to promote and support innovation." (2002) it is stated that "clusters must be fostered and marketed by all stakeholders...and the response to population growth must be innovative urban design, not sprawl." (Innovation in Canada, 2002) Furthermore, required is a "less complex arrangement...in federal and provincial funding of municipal infrastructure in support of a more innovative regional economy..." (Innovation in Canada, 2002) Additionally there is a requirement for "more municipal autonomy within the new Ontario Municipal Act." (Innovation in Canada, 2002)


In order that communities and towns combat these phenomenon of death in downtown it is necessary that planning for sustainable economic development strategy be focused upon and that commitment from all sectors of the community be gained in standing with the city council and sometimes postured against the city council in keeping these agreements concerning economic construction and development patterns in the community the city Guelph is has clearly demonstrated the effectiveness of this cohesion and commitment. Furthermore the call of Thompson for more autonomy in the municipal governance of town is a key component in the successful economic development strategy that combats death of the downtown.


Bennett, Ben (2003) Big Box Battle: Guelph's Citizens Favour Community Values and Smaller Developments, but They are Up Against Powerful Forces. Alternatives Journal. 22 Jun 2003. Online available at http://goliath.ecnext.com/coms2/summary_0199-3139860_ITM

Guanajuato: The Death of Heritage (2007) Journal a Day: Travel 28 July 2007. Online available at http://www.journal-a-day.com/Travel/392019-guanajuato-the-death-of-heritage.html.

Londerville, Jane (2000) Retail Services in Rural Towns: Measuring the Impact of Changes in the Retail Environment. The Cutting Edge 2000. Consumer Studies - University of Guelph. Ontario Canada. Online available at http://www.rics.org/NR/rdonlyres/4B293EFC-AE4C-41DE-96E1-ADB63ACD19C9/0/retail_services_in_rural_towns_20000101.pdf

Guelph Community Survey (2006) Final Report 18 July 2006. Online available at http://guelph.ca/uploads/Council_and_Committees/Growth-Management/Guelph-Community-Survey-Final-Report.pdf

Summit-Report -…[continue]

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