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Letters To The Editor – Walmart

(Webmaster’s note: Comments about the Walmart issue should be directed to Letters To The Editor, North Mississippi Herald, P.O. Box 648, Water Valley, MS 38965. We will publish a limited number in the April 24 issue and would especially like to hear from those who haven’t been heard from in favor of the business. Letters must be signed and contact information provided before they will be considered for publication.)

Town Hall Meeting Needed So Everyone Can Express Their Views About Walmart

We were recently  told that there may be a small “mini Walmart” store that would like to have their business in Water Valley.
Small “Mini Walmarts” HURT local businesses such as our grocery stores, hardware stores, and other long standing “locally owned  businesses”.  They undercut everyone else’s prices, making it extremely hard for local businesses to thrive.
The money that people spend at Walmart does NOT stay within our community. In most self sustaining towns $1 dollar spent generates $7 in the local business chain of the economy. That’s because it is a community of small intertwined businesses that spend money between each other’s businesses.
BUT, with Walmart-the money spent is sucked out of the community to enrich the corporate megastore.
If a town allows  even a”Mini Walmart” it invites all the other “stripmall” chain stores to follow.
For instance you’ll probably see fast food chains and you will quickly find that you have destroyed the character and ambiance of the town you love and want to preserve.
The idea of a WALMART moving into Water Valley is so completely opposite of the direction that our town is trying to promote.
We have been  nationally recognized as a place where UNIQUE and INDEPENDENT businesses have grown and are self sustaining .
Over the last four years Water Valley has been  a beacon for how  local, small town economies can survive.
Many people are moving to Water Valley to get away from suburban sprawl. They see the charm of a place that has not been spoiled by the blight of BIG BOX STRIP MALL SPRAWL.
We need to consider, as a community, do we need a big box store in a community of 3,500 people?
If you have access to a computer please read how Walmarts have killed small businesses. Having even a MINI Walmart will effect every business on Main St.
How are we to know whether even a “Mini Walmart” will not grow over time to be a super WalMart?
We should have a town hall meeting where EVERYONE can express their concerns.
Shouldn’t the public have a say in what happens in their own back yard?
Pati and Bill Warren
Water Valley

Walmart Is Becoming Ugly, Divisive Issue Among Friends And Neighbors

Dear Editor,
    There is a storm outside this gloomy Monday afternoon. There’s not much to be done about it. It’s that time of year when hot and cold collide and things can get ugly in a hurry. Just last week there was an ugly storm with damaging winds coming through the area. My wife and I received a call from our neighbors at 3am and were invited to sit in the relative safety of their storm shelter. That’s how folks are in Water Valley. I have lived in other places, much larger ones where folks were different. I’m sure that the people in this town would put themselves in front of a storm or whatever evil might come if it meant saving their neighbors and their town. Water Valley is beautiful like that and I’m proud that I’ve made this place my home.
    So I thought I would write a letter to voice my disapproval of allowing a Walmart Express to move into Water Valley. This is quickly becoming an ugly, divisive issue among friends and neighbors before the foundation has even been laid. I beg of the powers that be to consider the independent spirit of the town and what it means for that future. Once we allow a multi-billion dollar behemoth to move into our presence it’s point-set-match for local, family-owned businesses. Don’t ignore the facts. Please do the minimum research on the impact a Walmart store has on a town. I watched a Walmart Supercenter devastate independent business in my hometown. They now have a glowing center of convenience open 24 hours a day that takes every dollar in and sends it to a bank account elsewhere.
    No matter where you are on this issue please take a moment to consider your neighbor who may feel differently. I first heard about the plans for the store on Saturday morning and already I’ve heard and read disheartening statements that we are making about one another.
    If we allow it to tear us a part just let the store move in. We’ll have nothing left to fight for.  If you have reason to be in favor of the store I will listen with an open mind. I simply believe we are able to live and experience a town much like the one I remember from my childhood. A place I had been longing to return to since it was destroyed. A place that we don’t even know the full potential of what we can make it just yet. I believe Walmart will take what little we have and freeze it in it’s tracks. You can drive just down the road and get that. You don’t have to live there.
Matt Patton
Water Valley

Big Box Retailer Is Now Targeting Smaller Towns Similar To The Valley

Letter to the Editor:
    Walmart is Main Street’s Worst Nightmare.  I hear we may be in for more than bad dreams. With Walmart envisaging Water Valley as a possible building site for one of its new concept stores, the Walmart Express, the big box retailer is now targeting smaller towns of our size.  
    What Walmart of any size has done to individually owned retail stores including grocery stores and pharmacies is well known: it has killed them.
    With rising gas prices and sinking revenues, Walmart is now reinventing itself. It is settling into the neighborhood with a smaller footprint “convenience” store, a fraction of its regular size.  But don’t be fooled, the “convenience” comes at a price. I don’t just mean the low price and lowest quality stuff that they sell. Walmart has brought down America’s standard of living, has taken jobs abroad to Asia, and violated labor laws at home.  
    The world’s largest retailer has now spotted Water Valley on its delivery route between its Oxford and Grenada big box stores.  And if it will be permitted to move in, it will aggressively target our own Main Street stores.  What can citizens of a small town do against a 400 plus billion dollar global business?   We can fight this. If you are concerned like me, please contact your elected officials.
Annette Trefzer  
Main Street Business Owner

Competition Is A Good Thing And Helps Build Healthy Economies

    I’m writing you to let everyone know of my support for another grocery store in Water Valley.  I don’t normally write letters like this, but there seems to be such a out-cry against this business opening, that I wanted to let you know that there are probably just as many that are for it opening as are against it.  
    We need another grocery store in this town, competition is a good thing and builds healthy economies.  I don’t believe the store would hurt the downtown area anymore than it appears that other stores like it or larger have hurt Oxford, New Albany or Grenada, to name a few.  The vitality of a downtown business area is more dependent upon the businesses themselves and I believe the BTC as well as the other new businesses in town, has proven that.  
    If you sell a quality product that people want for a fair price and treat your customers well, you will never want for business.  I’ve lived in Water Valley for over 40 years, I love this town and I don’t believe one store is going to turn it into a ghost town as some are claiming….it’s the attitudes of “no changes” that will kill the town.  In years past this same attitude has been displayed by community  members driven by self interest, and as a result a large majority of us, are employed in other towns….we have all suffered as a consequence.  
Thank you,

Judy Miller
Water Valley

Uneven Playing Field Makes Walmart More Than Competition

To the Editor:
    Looks like the rumor is true: Wal-Mart wants to open a Wal-Mart Express “small box” store in Water Valley. If you hadn’t heard about their plans, that’s because they snuck in the back door. No public meetings. No ads announcing their plans. Just quietly slip in and seal the deal before the local community finds out and organizes. Honestly, with three Wal-Mart Supercenters within 45 minutes of Water Valley, do we need another Wal-Mart, on Water Valley’s Main Street?
    Wal-Mart sells stuff cheap. More accurately, they sell cheap stuff cheaply. They squeeze their suppliers (the vast majority of whom are overseas), and they take advantage of enormous economies of scale. It’s an efficient business model; even though many Wal-Mart employees are on food stamps, the company raked in $17 billion in profits last year.
    Competition? Sure, everyone wants competition in the marketplace. But when Wal-Mart comes to town, it’s not competition. It is the largest retailer in the world crushing local businesses. If ever there was an uneven playing field, it’s Wal-Mart competing with a small business half a mile down the road that sells the same products.
    Do you think that saving a few pennies on food, prescription medicines, garden goods, auto parts, etc., is worth the very real risk of putting our local providers out of business? I don’t, and I suggest we see if there’s a way to stop this threat. For example, if Wal-Mart needs a zoning variance, shouldn’t there be a public hearing?
    Best regards,
Cliff Lawson
Water Valley

Citizens Urged To Protect And Cherish The Town

Dear Editor,
    My husband and I live in Oxford and teach in the English department at the University of Mississippi; I also direct our Environmental Studies minor. My students and I often discuss the environmental, cultural, and economic importance of supporting local businesses and local communities.
    For the past few years, Water Valley’s Main Street has been a shining example of the changes that can happen when citizens put their hearts, creativity, energy, and money into revitalizing their small town. We have often driven out to Water Valley to visit the art galleries or shop at B.T.C. and every time we are there, we notice more good transformations.
    Naturally, WalMart wants a piece of the action. This is what WalMart has done all over America: move in and drive local business out. Please, citizens of Water Valley, do not let that happen. Please protect and cherish the beautiful little town you have.
Best wishes,
Ann Fisher-Wirth

No Company In American History Has Gutted More Small Towns Than Walmart

    Last Friday I was enjoying the sunshine and getting the porch in front of the Blu-Buck buildings ready to paint when a passing friend stopped to ask if I had heard the rumor that Walmart was coming to town.
    It ruined my day.  And my weekend.
    In 2006 on our first visit to Water Valley Binnie Turnage made me and Alexe a milkshake and gave us a yellow card that read, “Smile, God Loves You and So Do I.”
    We didn’t know places like Water Valley and people like Mr. Binnie still existed in America.  A week later we rented a house on Wagner Street, and started our family.
    Eight years later, Alexe and I both work on Main Street alongside the wonderful people that make our community a living, breathing town.  Our kids are in the local schools, (Caspian starting kindergarten in the fall) and we feel great about the place we have picked for them to grow up.
    A Walmart in Water Valley, no matter how you look at it, will change their childhood.
    No company in American history has closed down more small businesses or gutted more small towns.  Walmart does not add new business, it replaces the ones that already exist. Read any economic study you like, there are hundreds to choose from, and you will see that Walmart means growth for Walmart, and no one else.
    Instead of raising our children in a town where they can walk to any of a dozen stores and be taken care of by merchants who know and care about them, I am scared to think of the ghost town that will be left behind.
    Instead of shopping with Mr. Binnie, where their dollars might support the annual mission trip to Nicaragua, they will send their money into the Walton family fortune, $146 billion and counting.
    If you feel that driving 20 minutes to one of the three nearby Walmarts is too much of an inconvenience, please consider the real cost of having one in our backyard.
Kagan Coughlin
Water Valley

News Of Walmart May Stop Search For Home In WV

    I’m writing to encourage the mayor and city officials to keep Water Valley heading in the direction it is–a beautiful small town with a Main Street growing increasingly vibrant. The town’s charm, and the potential for opening a small business there, have led my family on a house hunt to relocate to Water Valley. But we’ve just found out that there’s the possibility of WalMart opening a store there, which has caused us to seriously rethink Water Valley as a home.
    There’s an abundance of evidence showing how WalMart has destroyed local economies and entrenched the local workforce in low-paying, part-time jobs, usually without benefits. One such study concludes that “the overwhelming weight of the independent research on the impact of Wal-Mart stores … shows that Wal-Mart depresses area wages and labor benefits … pushes out more retail jobs than it creates, and results in more retail vacancies” (
    These stores have drawn business away from small, locally-owned businesses to the point of many of them closing–a story found over and over again throughout the US. What’s more, the vast majority of money that exchanges hands at a WalMart leaves the local economy, bypassing local banks and heading into corporate, out-of-state accounts.
    Please, don’t take Water Valley the WalMart direction. Instead, help it continue to be a model for small-town revitalization in our state.
April Grayson
Oxford MS

Big-Box Retailers Refuse To Budge An Inch If That Means Any Reduction In Profit

    I have had a longstanding view of Walmart as the single greatest scourge of small towns in the US. I’ve served as an adviser to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture in international trade negotiations and have had an opportunity to sit around the table with advisers from all segments of agriculture, manufacturing and retailing as we all attempted to have our respective voices be heard by the United States Trade Representative in trade negotiations that would eventually have far-reaching effects on various segments of agriculture, industry, retailing and consumers.
    In side negotiations I have been a part of discussions with big-box store representatives–including Walmart–- in trying to find some sort of middle ground that would serve the interests of American agriculture, manufacturers, retailers and consumers, while providing a reasonable humanitarian economic assist to the developing world. It is impossible to persuade the big-box retailers to budge an inch if budging would reduce profitability by the smallest fraction.
    I understand the motivation for Walmart’s emphasis on profits.  Indeed, I applaud it.  After all, judicial, profit-oriented management is important to me, since my own post-retirement income is largely dependent upon investment returns, and I’m certain a number of the funds I hold are invested in Walmart and/or other big-box stores.  But I believe those returns could be optimized if a policy middle ground could be found that would enhance broad-based economic health as opposed to the cheaper-price, zero sum policy that purports to be in the interest of the poor.
    Unfortunately, consumers fail to understand that the marginally lower prices undermine their ability to find and keep jobs (and have health insurance, incidentally, which Walmart denies to many of their employees under the Obamacare protocol by cutting their hours).
    It has now been more than a decade since I was in Australia, but at that time, I had an opportunity to visit some small-town farming communities where I found life to be very much like it was in Water Valley in the forties and fifties.  I was able to have a good lunch at the counter in a small-town hotel restaurant. It was reminiscent of the restaurant in Water Valley’s Blackmur Hotel in the forties and fifties.  I found small apparel stores where good quality clothing, shoes and hats could be bought, reminiscent of Water Valley’s Ray’s Department Store in the forties-fifties.  There was not a Walmart store to be seen (and still isn’t I’m told).
    Australia does have big-box chains, but at the time I was there (hopefully it’s still the case), they were located in cities and not small towns in rural communities.
    The few pennies that one can save on an item bought in Walmart stores is not worth the resulting carnage inflicted on the economy of the towns where they are located and in surrounding towns.
    I spent my entire professional career working for, and eventually heading, an organization that served members from seven different agriculture and industry segments with seemingly divergent policy interests. We had cotton farmers on one end and textile manufacturers on the other, with five processing and handling segments in between.  Our existence depended upon our ability to convince members and prospective members that there WAS a policy middle ground that could serve the interests of ALL segments better than a policy that could serve the interest of ONE segment at the expense of one or more of the other six.  And we demonstrated that effective policy was more often achieved with seven industry segments speaking as one rather than seven segments advocating for their own particular interest.  We were widely acknowledged as the most effective agricultural policy advocate in America and one of the best on policies that even marginally affected agriculture and textiles.
    Unfortunately, we never convinced big-box retailers to come under our policy umbrella.  The big-boxes, including Walmart, remain National Cotton Council adversaries in the trade policy arena, and more often than not on particulars of broader economic policies.
    I hope we don’t see a Walmart in Water Valley.  Their presence will be counterproductive to the progress that has recently been so encouraging for Water Valley.

Gaylon B. Booker
Water Valley

Walmart Isn’t Competition, It’s A NFL Linebacker In The Ring With a Toddler

Dear Water Valley,
    I am not writing the editor of the paper, or the Mayor, or our state representative. I am writing you. You, the Hills, the Crenshaws, the Vaughns, the McMinns, the Pullens, and so many more.
    Please don’t let this happen to our town.
    I’ve heard some people say competition is a good thing. And it is! We need some competition in Water Valley: a steakhouse and catfish place. A bar. Factories, factories, factories. Maybe even another grocery store.
    But Wal-Mart isn’t competition. It’s an NFL linebacker in a boxing ring with a toddler. It is, in other words, not a fair fight. And the pretty child of Water Valley is sure to end up bloodied and left for dead.
    I’ve heard people say that the people who are currently leaving town to spend money in Oxford and Grenada and Batesville will stop leaving to spend their money here, and the folks who keep the Piggly Wiggly and Sartain’s and Turnage’s and yes, the B.T.C. will keep shopping there and keeping us open. So not much will change except more money will stay in Water Valley.
    I’ve got news for you. A whole lot of people in Water Valley do their weekly “big shop” elsewhere. We are already competing with Wal-Mart, and just about the one thing we’ve got on them is distance. The stores in Water Valley survive by the times you run out of milk on a Tuesday, or you just need a few things here and there, not worth getting in the car and gassing up. We have the just-a-few-things market cornered. When Wal-Mart is one mile away instead of 18, we will lose that one basket sale.
    And that’s what we live on.
    Show me a business that plans to bring something to Water Valley instead of take it away, and I will support it. Wal-Mart is not that business. It will close down the businesses who hire the local teenagers, donate to the football and baseball and Problem Solver teams, give gift certificates to Rotary and the Chamber of Commerce and Junior Auxiliary. Wal-Mart does not advertise in local papers. They do not support local causes. Their executives live far away. They do not care about Water Valley a single bit. They haven’t chosen our town because they think we’re special, or because they have something to offer us; they want to locate here because they have stuck a supercenter in every big town in America, and now they’re going after the small ones that are left. Wal-Mart Express plans to open three hundred new stores this year.
    I pray to God that you won’t allow that to happen here.
Alexe van Beuren
Water Valley

Drive To Oxford If You Want To Shop At Walmart

It saddens me to think of a Walmart entering this lovely, Main Street enlivened, little town.  I am sure my sentiments are echoed throughout the community.
    Water Valley is unique, in that it has been largely unchanged through big corporations and businesses.  Who wishes to see this change?  Especially when we’re on the verge of a good, old-fashioned revitalization!  How very sad.
    Please, if you desire a Walmart, drive the 20 minutes to Oxford!  We moved to Water Valley to escape from the strip mall haven so many towns have become.
    Surely, Walmart doesn’t have to come, does it?
Sarah Ortwein
Water Valley

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