Photo by Richard Zowie
One of the most important things in journalism is to give each side a chance to give their account of how something occurred. You’d be surprised how Years ago, while writing a feature about a Texas man whose medical insurance would not pay for a kidney transplant, I interviewed a spokesperson for the company to get their side. Last year, when talking to an Oxford Township, Mich. mother about an unsafe path her son had to take to get to the bus stop, I spoke to the school district to get their side.
And with this story about Walmart, it’s only fair to get the department store’s side also.
Walmart, like Kmart and other companies has this policy when dealing with the media: all questions are directed to corporate public affairs. That’s the same thing that happened when I contacted the Clio-area Walmart.
This segment of the story includes incorporating Walmart’s response to its critics. It’s up to you, the reader, to ponder and decide what you think.
Walmart: the culprit for the demise of Mom and Pop in Clio?
Part 3 of 4: Walmart responds to its critics
By Richard Zowie
Is Walmart indeed to blame for the demise of some of the Clio Mom and Pop stores? Not so fast, said Nick Infante, Wal-Mart’s Senior Manager for Public Affairs in Michigan. (The management at the Vienna Township Walmart declined to be interviewed for this article and instead referred questions to Walmart’s corporate headquarters).
“We are proud to offer our customers low prices on everyday products,” Infante said. “Walmart keeps shoppers in the community. Local stores have a niche market and a loyal customer base. Our stores help to keep and enhance that customer base.”
This is one trait of Walmart’s that the department mogul officials believe are a benefit to the small-town environment in places like Clio and Thetford and Vienna Townships.
“Walmart not only brings more customers in to a community but it also keeps residents there who may otherwise shop in communities other than Clio,” said Infante. “Additional shopping choices will keep residents here, as they will not have to travel somewhere else to get the things they need.”
When it comes to opening a Walmart, there are various factors that the department store super giant takes under consideration.
“We consider the population of an area and where our customers are traveling from to get to our other stores,” Infante explained. “We take a look at the trade areas and see where we could better serve Walmart customers.”
Are the concerns of citizens or small businesses in a community regarding Walmart warranted? Infante said that much of the resistance encountered when it comes to building another Walmart is based on misinformation.
“Walmart goes to great lengths to meet with the communities we wish to partner with, and work with them through the process,” he said. “Walmart brings many positive things to a community, including jobs with a long-term career path, and a history of giving back to local charities and organizations.”
In fact, Infante added, Walmart has a lot to offer to a small community like Clio.
“Walmart gives the residents of Clio and the surrounding area an opportunity to shop our stores for low prices on quality items at times when it is convenient for them to shop,” the public affairs manager said. “Our stores give, on average, $40,000 back to each community every year to organizations such as police and fire departments, youth sports and other charities. The majority of our giving goes right back into Clio area organizations. Also, the employment of 300-plus associates is also a major benefit to the community, at a time when the Clio area and Michigan as a whole is seeing jobs leave the state.”