Large retailers could hurt community

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 18, 2004

DEMOPOLIS- Dr. Habib Bazyari, who is the Dean of the College of Business from the University of West Alabama, has studied the affects that large retail companies have on rural areas. While they offer more jobs and higher tax revenues, he said the negatives from these large retail companies could be detrimental to the community over time.

Bazyari, who has been involved in many projects in Meridian, MS including dealing with the early planning of the Benita Lakes Mall, did an economic impact study on the pros and cons of building the mall there.

“My background is dealing with the world of the retail businesses and the affects both positive and negative they can cause to a city,” Bazyari said.

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These companies like Wal-Mart bring three very strong negatives to the negotiating table, he said. Especially when they’re looking to come to a town to setup a store. The first of the three negatives is a lot of the smaller mom&pop stores will go out of business, he said simply because they can’t compete with the “Every Day Low Price.”

“This is just the law of supply and demand in action,” Bazyari said, “The smaller stores on the other side of town should be ok, but the ones next to the building are in trouble.”

The second negative is the one that could ultimately hurt the community in the long run, he said. The profits from the smaller mom&pop stores, instead of staying in house will end up traveling to Bentonville, Arkansas, he said.

“The loss of the money in the community is the one thing that really hurts the over all standing of the community,” Bazyari said.

Finally, when large companies move into or out of town, they leave behind a very large and vacant building that is usually an eye soar on the community, he said because their isn’t another business that can use a building that size.

“The vacant empty buildings are a problem with every large company across the U.S.,” Bazyari said.

Bobby Minor, who owns Back Forty Produce and Bill Meador, who owns Omni Sports both have no fear of the news of the incoming SuperCenter because they both offer something that a big chain store can’t-service.

“I say bring them on,” said Minor after hearing about the SuperCenter. Those stores are just so big that no one really has the time to run into one just to say a banana, he said. But, here at the Back Forty, people just walk up and get one tomato or one apple all the time, no fuss, no muss.

“Those stores are for people who are retired, wealthy, or just want to walk around for five miles looking for all the bargains,” Minor said.

The thing with Wal-Mart is that they are all hype, he said.

It’s like going to a wrestling match and hearing all the screaming fans, but this time its people screaming for the new building.

“The hype will eventually die down and it will just be a plain old Wal-Mart,” Minor said, “And we will still be selling our produce every day period.”

Meador said his business has seen some damage from the Wal-Mart, but not much because he isn’t in direct competition with Wal-Mart because they sell lower end sporting goods. My main competition is Hibbett’s because they sale team sports equipment, he said.

“Wal-Mart has hurt me I’m sure, but not much because I offer something they can’t quality service,” Meador said.