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The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • That's What I Think: Would market be good for Rolla?

  • That was quite a bombshell City Administrator John Butz dropped Monday night at the Rolla City Council when he announced that Walmart has applied for rezoning of property next to the Forum Drive and 18th Street roundabout as a location for a Neighborhood Market.
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  • That was quite a bombshell City Administrator John Butz dropped Monday night at the Rolla City Council when he announced that Walmart has applied for rezoning of property next to the Forum Drive and 18th Street roundabout as a location for a Neighborhood Market.
    I did a little Internet reading and found a Time magazine article about Walmart’s decision to put more emphasis on the much smaller Neighborhood Markets than on building new Supercenters, because there is more money in the smaller stores.
    Time magazine quoted some financial analysts as saying Walmart is wanting to take market share away from Dollar General, Family Dollar and Dollar Tree.
    It will be a great deal of fun watching the council’s reaction to this. It seems to be a major wrench thrown in the work just getting started on redevelopment of the Forum Plaza. A development company wants to move and expand the Country Mart store and renovate the entire shopping center. That would be paid with help from the taxpayers through a funding mechanism never used here before and a community improvement district.
    Judging from history, if Walmart wants a Neighborhood Market over there less than a mile from the Forum Plaza and if the city council goes along with that, the Forum Plaza developers might as well pack up and go back to Kansas.
    I say that because I remember when Walmart expanded into a Supercenter that included a large supermarket. As I recall, not long afterwards, Karsch’s Warehouse Foods shut down its fine store in the building where Big Lots is now.
    Also soon gone was Piggly Wiggly, formerly Hillcrest Big Star, which was an old but good store in an aged shopping center near the corner of Highways 63 and 72. That shopping center, the first in Rolla I was told when I moved here from a much smaller town 30 years ago, sits empty now.
    And another grocery store, Callen’s Market, also at the corner of Highways 63 and 72, shut down. The loss of that store took away a wonderful shopping experience in the community. It was a place where you could buy bedding plants out front in the spring and apples in the fall.
    Walmart does indeed employ a lot of people, and I understand they pay high wages and provide good benefits, so perhaps there is a net gain in the replacement of three stores by one Supercenter.
    It seems pretty clear to me that there isn’t enough room along Forum Drive for both a Neighborhood Market and a Country Mart. Other stores in the shopping center would likely also be adversely affected by the giant’s move into a smaller niche.
    I almost feel sorry for the city council members. Assuming this opera goes ahead and hits the stage, there will be strong feelings on both sides. No matter what the council does, the elected representatives will be verbally abused by voters and residents.
    Page 2 of 2 - And maybe even the media.

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