It was reported yesterday that retail behemoth Wal-Mart has purchased the space next to Home Depot in the 100 Oaks area, where the Expo Design Center has sat empty for a few hot minutes. If you live in the area, like I do, this recent development is worthy of nothing less than an old-fashioned spit-take. While Berry Hill folk such as myself were sitting here all hot under the collar, chomping at the bit to see what happens to the fairgrounds, just a few heavily congested traffic miles away, Wal-Mart was coughing up a cool $12 million to put in a new store. Come again?
So what, no chance for a good old protest of the evil big box? No boiling rage over the big guy muscling his way right next to the quaint little indie business paradise of Berry Hill? A quick search on the neighborhood impact of Wal-Marts is inconclusive at best, and seems to largely depend on who's doing the studying. So is Wal-Mart good for driving commercial real estate prices up, but home values down? Or does Wal-Mart drive out other retailers, leaving a trail of chronically vacant spaces in its wake? Or foster a boomtown of retail opportunities thanks to increased traffic? Does it matter whether it's a supercenter or just a grocery store? (This one seems to be an urban market.)
Someone — anyone — enlighten us.