Jane Yazzie: Questioning Wal-Mart
Regarding Wal-Mart’s plan to open a Supercenter in Craig — city officials are responsibly asking Wal-Mart about traffic management, waste management, etc. and in the spirit of free enterprise and anticipated sales and property taxes from Wal-Mart, are otherwise quiet.
Wal-Mart must know that, although a Craig store will draw Moffat County, Baggs, Wyo., and Routt County customers of the Steamboat Wal-Mart who will likely come to the grocery department here, three such customer groups are likely insufficient to support a Supercenter. A giant business such as Wal-Mart might be counting on customers from the Moffat County “boom” coming from the pipeline construction and oil, natural gas and possibly coal bed methane extrication. Nobody knows the timeline or density of that boom, but Wal-Mart may be determined to reap the boom’s fullest advantage. If it is so that a too-small local customer base (because of so many other nearby Wal-Marts in Vernal, Rifle and Steamboat) and a possible medium-life boom are not typically Wal-Mart’s optimal settings, the company must be relying on some degree of beyond-its-normal-underpricing of local Craig businesses to put them gradually out of business, thus removing its local customers’ other choices and loyalties to local businesses, big or small.
Also, we must wonder whether Wal-Mart, even offering $10.50 an hour, will keep employees at less than 40 hours a week to avoid paying the full health, workmen’s compensation, life insurance, or vacation benefits that go only to full-timers. Wal-Mart has left a trail at other American sites of employees in need of social services, especially tax-supported health care and the most expensive of all, publicly subsidized services.
Finally, could higher gas prices that will discourage some out-of-town Wal-Mart customers from driving here for the store’s discounts bring even harsher Wal-Mart prices to push competing local businesses to the survival edge?
How quickly, during time, do 200 new jobs at about $10.50 an hour ($1,680 a month before taxes, net $1,350 to $1,400 a month, depending on possible employee copayments for benefits, especially with Wal-Mart’s health care package) no longer add to the total buying power of our population.
Also, does Wal-Mart likely have a long-enough future in Craig to have many promotional opportunities?
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