Friday, November 1, 2013

After many delays,the Ontario Walmart is open - but for how long?

A follow-up to my October 14 post - the Ontario Walmart at 1333 North Mountain is now open.


The opening took a couple of weeks longer than expected - the first two Yelp reviews were from people who had been told that the Walmart was open when it wasn't.

But it was definitely open by October 31, when I made two visits to the store - one in the morning to get a Subway breakfast sandwich, and one in the evening to get last-minute Halloween candy. I haven't ventured far into the store yet, but so far things look good.

And it's definitely better than the abandoned eyesore that some people seemed to prefer over the past few years. Even the co-owners of Ontario Bakery agree about that, something that David Allen (no fan of Walmart) noted.

By the way, regarding Allen's concern about Walmart wiping out local businesses - as I've noted before (for example, here), the businesses that may be wiped out by Walmart have themselves wiped out businesses back in their day. My March 2008 post quoted from an article that is no longer online, but which stated the following:

Today's supermarket offers everything from fresh mangoes to muffin tins, from carnations to wedding cakes. Its configuration is based on people's demands; one-stop shopping for the time-starved consumer.

But the supermarket phenomenon has caused its share of casualties, including the neighborhood grocery stores where pantry staples were just a short bike ride away and you called the grocer by his first name. In retrospect, the independent store's decline seemed inevitable as society grew more mobile, fickle and deal-conscious, and less loyal to neighborhood businesses.

"The fittest is going to survive," says Roger Larson, second-generation owner of Larson's SuperValu in West Fargo. "I'm a small-town person at heart, and I hate to see that, but it's a matter of economics. The fact is you need volume to survive."

Five years after I wrote that post, SuperValu sold its Albertsons grocery stores after closing some of them. This proves the accuracy of Roger Larson's words - SuperValu and other supermarkets wiped out smaller markets in their day, and now SuperValu and these same supermarkets may be wiped out by Walmart.

And Walmart may be wiped out by Amazon. Yes, the Ontario Walmart itself will probably close down one day. That day may be 40 years from now, or perhaps that day may only be 10 years from now. I've only lived in this area for 30 years, but I've seen several stores come and go on Mountain Avenue between 5th and 6th. And it's quite possible that we may witness the closure of the Ontario Walmart as early as 2023, and people will lament the closure of their friendly neighborhood store.

The merry-go-round continues.

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