H st NW Wal-Mart closes

On the 31st of March, the Wal-Mart on H st NW in DC closed their doors, part of a series of store closings by this infamous chain. No reason was given for closing the DC store, but Wal-Mart credited shoplifters with forcing them to pull all the way out of Portland, WA. Wal-Mart never succeeded in forcing the nearby Giant Food at 3ed and H st NE to close. Years ago, any Wal-Mart that did not "Capture 100%" of nearby retail was deemed a failure and targetted for closing.

Wal-Mart's original efforts to enter DC were aggressively resisted, as they originally intended to pay workers only $10 an hour while Giant and Safeway (UFCW representing workers) were paying $14 an hour. The original landlord for the Ga Ave location had to move after receiving two residential protests. The stores across the street from the Ga Ave Wal-Mart suceeded in forcing the DC government to give them back their street parking, originally taken away in favor of Wal-Mart traffic.

Above all, it was Wal-Mart's entry in DC that led to the passage of legislation greatly increasing DC's minimum wage.. This is now over $16 an hour(excluding tipped workers who still get very little guaranteed pay), more than 1 1/2 times the amount in nominal dollars Wal-Mart was trying to shaft workers into taking back in 2010. Inflation has probably eaten all of the difference between this and the roughly $14 an hour Giant and Safeway employees got in 2010.

Wal-Mart in DC did not succeed in creating a retail deserts excluding themselves near their DC locations. In the past, smaller towns like Fayettsville, North Carolina became "Wal-Mart nuked" when Wal-Mart opened and nearly all smaller chains and independent stores closed. DC was simply too big for this strategy to function.

As of now, the role Wal-Mart used to occupy in destroying smaller chains and independent stores has largely been taken over by Amazon, and Wal-Mart themselves ironically could find themselves sharing whatever fate Amazon has in store for Giant and Safeway. Of course, lower income shoppers at Wal-Mart are those least likely to have the bank accounts and credit cards necessary to shop at Amazon or any other online "retailer."


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