Wednesday, November 28, 2001
It's not the businesses that makes the image of a town, it's the people that make up that community. The majority of the letters have been against Wal-Mart. We are hoping that this letter will give the anti-Wal-Mart people something to consider and open the door for the pro-Wal-Mart people to voice their opinions. Most of the concerns voiced are: we don't need another minimum-wage paying business, it's going to hurt other local businesses, the traffic is unwanted, and finally, will a bigger Wal-Mart mean a bigger "Camp Wal-Mart."
Wal-Mart isn't just another minimum-wage job, the fact is it starts out approximately 25 cents more an hour above minimum wage depending on the area you are hired for. After that you get yearly evaluations which means another raise based on performance. If you get promoted you qualify for a raise after your probation period. How many businesses offer their employees a day off with pay when you make cashier or employee of the month? How many offer stock options? Also a stakeholders' bonus (percentage of their store profit)? What local retail businesses put money with a 401k plan for you that you receive when fully vested, without you contributing to? There are other eyesores in this area that, we feel, are worse than a super center. Take for instance, the industrial side of the port. What's hapening there? What we see is a lot of empty ground with foundations without buildings amongst nice landscaping and improved building lots.
You are afraid of having an empty Wal-Mart building. It doesn't have to be that way. Rumor has it that the Dodge dealer is looking at it, whether or not they take it there are different types of businesses that could prosper in either place. Use your imagination a little. Here's a possibility -- a family fun center. Have a roller rink, pool tables, climbing walls, etc. There's already a place for a snack bar. Does that help broaden the mind? Don't blame Wal-Mart for any loss of business downtown or other local stores suffer from. Downtown has always been hurting for business, as far back as we can remember and that goes back many years. Look at Marv's for Men, JC Penney, Paris Fair, to name a few. Uptown we used to have Prairie Market, Millers, Ben Franklin, and NAPA used to be a grocery store. The supply and demand has always been here but the affordable pricing has not. Let's not forget the senior, who make up a large part of our community, and the low income families that are struggling to live in this beautiful scenic area. A lot of those visitors that have turned Wal-Mart parking lot into "Camp Wal-Mart' have save up the money knowing they can travel from state to state, visiting communities that have Wal-Mart.
For you see, the $12-20 they save not staying in an RV park goes back into the community, via the tourist attractions and stores. Before someone writes another "Wal-Mart doesn't care" letter please remember that it's the employees that make a business. As Wal-Mart employees for several years, our philosophy has been, "If we don't have it, send them someplace locally that we think has it or can get it." Do other businesses do the same for us? We've found that working at Wal-Mart has been like having an extended family. They are there for you when you need them, no matter what and we try our best to treat our customers the same.
Carrie Macrum, White Salmon
Verna Howell, Hood River
Rosalina Acevedo, Hood River