Published on: July 22, 2013
Regarding Meijer's opening of its first store in now-bankrupt Detroit, MNB user Pat Patterson wrote:Meijer's bold move creates an interesting study situation for those wanting to serve diverse population elements.. For those who don't know Detroit, 8 Mile Road is the northern boundary of the city and Woodward is a major multilane access road serving Detroit and the northwestern suburbs. The specific site is located on the southeastern corner of these two arteries at an interstate style interchange.
Even though the site is in Detroit, it is barely so. Move directly north across 8 Mile, about 200 feet, and the site is in Ferndale. Without presenting a full blown study, the northern and western portions of Meijer's immediate prospective trade area are moderate to middle income predominantly white communities, Hazel Park 90%+ white, Ferndale 80%+ white and Royal Oak 90%+ white. The southern trade area will be Detroit and is a significantly lower income predominantly black community, 80%+ black. Detroit, like many major cities experiencing a long decline is underserved by major retailers. Twenty years ago I conducted a site study in Detroit, population then was approximately a million and there were two major chain grocery stores in the city.
In the past conventional wisdom has held that major retailers would have difficulty serving middle income white and lower income black areas simultaneously. The best approach was to locate well within the upscale area and draw the downscale market out. You have only to contrast historical retailing in the Grosse Pointes and nearby Detroit to see examples of this storing approach.
My opinion, with 40 years in and around site analysis, disregarding any problems the financial condition of Detroit may bring, if this site can be made to work, Meijer would be the right retailer and this would be the right location.
Regarding "living wage" legislation, MNB user Chris Utz wrote:Chicago tried to block Walmart from adding Supercenters by creating arbitrary rules about stores over 99,000 square feet. This caused Costco and Lowe's to back away from approved new stores, which eventually caused Chicago to change its law. The unintended consequence was that Walmart began retrofitting existing conventional stores in Chicago with limited food and began exploring 99,000 square foot Supercenters, which turned out to be very profitable. The main driver of Chicago's regulations seems to have been Walmart's anti-union stance.
When Walmart caved and allowed union construction crews to build their stores, Walmart Supercenters started popping up in Chicago and in other areas of the country that had been anti-Supercenter; most notably San Diego County, where planners had promised never to allow a new Supercenter.
The goal of these arbitrary minimum wage hikes is most likely union-related. It is an attempt to protect unionized Supercenter competitors, especially supermarkets. It is also a heavy handed new club used in the continuing attempt to compel Walmart, and other large discounters, to unionize.
MNB user William J McCollum wrote:If the company proposing the same new stores in DC was Target, this would most likely never have happened. Wait, Target would never plan stores in a low income areas!
And from MNB user John J. Toner V:I could not agree with you more! Having a couple of Wal-Marts open up would be good for the DC food retail scene. Either shape up and compete or get out of the way, and that’s a message for the Unions too. Their sense of entitlement in DC creates un-inspiring workplaces which in turn affects basket size.
And another reader chimed in:The hypocrites that run D.C. don’t pay their maintenance and other low-skill workers $12.50 an hour but expect Wal-Mart to pay it.
But another reader disagreed:What exactly would Washington D.C. get out of 3 Wal-Mart stores coming to town? More taxes going to keep people with full-time jobs on welfare. A job that does not pay a living wage is no more than slavery and tax payers pay for Wal-Mart’s profits. A person who works full-time for a living should not live in poverty.
MNB user Tim McGuire wrote:Kevin - you describe a conflicted view about the living wage legislation. What's to be conflicted about? How can you support in any way legislation that sets one rule for some companies and another for others? If the legislators in D.C. want a higher minimum wage for their citizens, they should set it - just as you describe San Francisco having done - but it has to apply to all businesses. You can't arbitrarily decide to make some businesses less competitive by making them pay more than the competition across the street - period. Of course there will be lawsuits if this legislation ever passes - it is discrimination, pure and simple, and there is no legal or moral basis for deciding that the competitive playing field should be tilted by local legislators. Hard to believe anyone would think this was acceptable or sensible policy - regardless of what you think of any individual company. Set the same rules for everyone and let them earn their success, or not. Isn't that what American free enterprise is supposed to be all about?
And from another reader:I think all the discussions about living wages at places like McDonalds and Walmart are really scary. These entry level jobs, intended primarily for high school and college aged kids. The expectation that these be long term jobs to sustain whole families speaks volumes about our president’s economic policies and his supporters.
It is my experience, when I shop at places like these, that many if not most of the employees that I see working there don't look like high school and college kids. They look older than that, like the are dependent on these jobs to survive.
I want to be clear about my position on the living wage legislation. I am troubled by having one set of rules for one group and a different set of rules for another. However, there is a part of me that thinks that small businesses maybe ought to have different considerations than Walmart ... though I'm not sure how you legislate this. Still, it seems appropriate to me that we have a mature discussion about the subject, rather than settling for ideological reactions that side with one position or the other.
As troubled as I am by the issues above, I think what worries me more is the fact that we seem to have an entire class of people who are working full-time in respectable jobs, and yet are unable to make a living - you know, pay their bills, feed their families, afford a place for them to live, get them an education - in doing so. And I cannot help but worry that at a time when top executives and investors are making ever-higher salaries, the people on the front lines are unable to make any headway without holding down two or three jobs, and perhaps still find it to be a struggle. The living wage debate highlights this problem, and the story last week about McDonald's seeming to acknowledge that its employees need to work two jobs to support themselves throws it into sharp relief.
I believe in hard work. I think most people do, and I think most people do their best. I believe that people who work hard deserve to get ahead. But I worry that we're creating a system that works against even their best efforts.
There are some - and I get email from them - who suggest that many people who hold these jobs are takers, and it is only by holding two or three jobs and working 70 or 80 hours a week that people prove their worthiness. I have a problem with that attitude, just as I have a problem with living wage bills. The world isn't as simple as either approach would suggest.
I think the entire subject is worthy of serious and thoughtful examination, with an eye toward the long-term implications for the culture.
On another subject, from an MNB reader:Whether a food item contains GMO or not, the use of the word "natural" should be regulated by the FDA. Many food companies leverage natural as a marketing tool to position their product as "better for you" but these same products could have used tons of pesticides in the production process. While I agree that we cannot cost effectively sustain the world's population with only organic food, non-organic products that use cheap short cuts, like industrial mono-cropping, should not be able to make the natural claim. As a young father, the argument has become more more clear to me. Is it "natural" to feed your family food that has been produced with harsh chemicals that could potentially have deleterious impact on our bodies and the environment?