Crimmins photo project

Low, low motives

Low, low motives
OK, more pictures.

Above is a former P&C supermarket. P&C is a grocery chain that's mostly in upstate New York. It has union employees and its modernized stores are designed to compete with Rochester-based Wegman's. A few years back P&C opened an ultra-modern, full service store in Gang Mills, located near a major wing of Corning Inc., as well as the village of Painted Post and the bedroom community of Erwin. The store opened with much fanfare. Customers liked its deli, takeout foods, seafood dept. and large selection of products at competitive prices. Contributing to the stores traffic was a  K-Mart right next door.
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But in less than two years, both businesses went belly up. What could have caused the loss of these viable businesses in such a short time?

The answer: Always Wal-Mart. Always.
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By the time the P&C opened in Gang Mills, Wal-Mart, already across the street, was expanding its facility to a "super store," that included groceries. Now consumers didn't have to go to P&C and K-Mart because they could do all their shopping in one stop across the street. And the prices were great-- especially because Wal-Mart still had competition in town. K-Mart and P&C

So what do we do with these empty buildings? Who wants to try make a retail go of it across from a monolithic retailer that sells itself as the only store you'll ever need?

Nobody, which is why these perfectly functional buildings sit unoccupied and will continue to sit unoccupied until that day comes when people start to realize that there truly is what has been described as the 'high cost of low prices."

Wal-Mart isn't happy just wiping out the mom & pop retailers. And so now the people in and around Gang Mills eat food picked out for them by an Arkansas retailer rather than a local chain. They eat food that is provided by venders who have been pressured to cut every possible corner and cost to lower their wholesale prices. In many locations, Wal-Mart has become the only game in town for both suppliers and consumers. Wal-Mart provides the perfect example of latter day capitalism because it is not about competition and allowing the market to speak-- it's about the elimination of competition-- except of course among workers.
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I don't shop at Wal-Mart. I can't believe anyone would feed their families food sold by such a shifty outfit. Wal-Mart is now selling "organic food" -- and this isn't necessarily good news. At a time when everyone is concerned about food safety, the mega-retailer is fighting tougher regulations on imported foods.
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Fortunately Wal-Mart hasn't wiped out all of the P&C's, Wegmans and other supermarkets -- but give it time. For now there is good news. Wal-Mart just abandoned plans to wipe out smaller retailers in Bath, NY. The stay of execution for local retailers is probably more of a reflection of the pitiful economy than a result of a lot of hard work by community organizers to keep the monster at bay. But those organizers were forcing Wal-Mart to jump through various hoops and that was costing Wal-Mart money. If it was a close call then the activists tipped the balance.

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Walter DufresneFriday, May 16th 2008 8:13AM

"Has anyone ever seen a Wal-Mart close up?"
Sure, but not for poor economic performance.  Instead, there's a legendary closing (at least among union organizers) at Jonquière in northern Quebec.
Business week described it in an article called "No Union Please, We're Wal-Mart".

CharlieWednesday, May 14th 2008 10:51AM

Wal-Marts tactics are to blame.
They come into towns and offer extremely low-low prices. So low in fact that only a die-hard hater of Wal-Mart wouldn't shop there.
And soon the compitition is going broke and boarding up. And as the boards go up over the "Mom & Pops" so do Walmarts prices as they adjust them to what the market will bear.
Wal-Mart is to blame with their create a storm and then hang in and weather it out.
Has anyone ever seen a Wal-Mart close up?

JoyWednesday, May 14th 2008 10:10AM

Bill, I agree.  The savings there are not as great and the selection is even poorer.  I know this because until recently my daughter shopped there until I convinced her otherwise.  It's all about perception.  People believe they are saving money when they really aren't overall.  In my area, Walmart gets special TIF relief for building these stores, so our tax revenues don't go up that much. Walmart virtually gets a free ride.

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Bill A.Wednesday, May 14th 2008 9:49AM

Unfortunately, it's not Wal-Mart that puts "Mom and Pop" out of business, it's all the other moms and pops who shop at Wal-Mart.  Neighbors abandoning neighbors to save four cents on a twenty pound bag of rice is the problem, Wal-Mart simply takes advantage of this phenomenon.  The enemy isn't in Arkansas, it's us.

rahimehTuesday, May 13th 2008 10:05PM

I'm thinking that if American high schools taught proper economics classes in which kids would learn about the true nature of the business practices that dominate their country and their lives, Wal*Mart and its ilk wouldn't survive another generation.  Ach, maybe that's way too idealistic...

betmoTuesday, May 13th 2008 8:43PM

ithaca was successful in keeping walmart out of the commons area- and to my knowledge- the one that they have isn't a superstore.  here in binghamton- we have 'the works'- walmart super store with the whole shebang in a big ole strip mall full of chain stores.  in fact, in the vestal parkway area- we have nothing but strip malls with chain stores.  sigh.

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JoyTuesday, May 13th 2008 4:57PM

We have two Walmarts in my town (Springfield, IL).  One is a supercenter, the other regular and a new one being built is one of the biggest supercenters around our part of Illinois.  They also want to build a third supercenter to replace the aging one.  You are absolutely correct.  The new store has already put a strain on our infrastructure and it isn't even open yet.  There is only one grocery store left in that area and I don't know how it will survive because it does have ridiculously high prices.  Perhaps because of lack of competition.  I never shop at Walmart and lobby against it everytime it comes up.  Unfortunately, elected officials in this town only see dollar signs, not the trickle down effects of this retailer.  I could show you pictures of  one of the  main streets in this town that looks exactly like the ones you posted above.  Very heavily traveled street, yet several businesses have closed, most likely never to reopen.   There has been successful opposition to the west side construction of the new Walmart, but only because that's where the rich people live and don't want that "blight" in their backyard.  It's OK for the rest of us though because you see their BMWs and Lexuses (Lexi?) in the parking lot at Walmart.  Sad commentary on our times