Mystery Business

When an organism exhausts a food supply, it must find something new to feed on. A virus or parasite finds a new host, a predator finds new prey, and Wal-Mart searches for another market and more small businesses to devour.

With all the talk of a new ?mystery business? coming to Hillsboro, the speculation has many turning to the signs that the big box store giant is the one looking to come into town.

There is evidence that helps point them that way, too.

Wal-Mart has launched a new, small-format store geared toward small communities and has already announced ?Express? stores in Clearwater, Rose Hill and Ellsworth for 2015.

?Local communities should truly understand how this will affect them before embracing such a concept,? said?John Boccuzzi, Jr., managing partner of Boccuzzi LLC, in a 2011 Forbes article about Wal-Mart testing such a store out. ?If you are fond of local stores run by local owners, a format like this could put them out of business in months.?

The testing has come to an end, and they are putting the Wal-Mart Express concept into full swing right in our backyard.

Wal-Mart?s plan is simple. Locate smaller stores in communities just like Hillsboro that will be 15-30 minutes from a Superstore that acts as their hub. The smaller store will offer next-day delivery and most of the advantages of the Supercenter without the physical footprint in town.

It?s a real evil genius who has figured out how to get the government to supplement its profit margins and now figures rural communities are next to feel its wrath.

Clearwater is a town of 2,500 about 15 minutes from Wichita. Hillsboro sure seems to fit the bill, huh?

With that knowledge, it is time to fortify our local businesses, embrace local community shopping and grow our rural economies now before Wal-Mart decides we are next on the community killing chopping block.

We at the Hillsboro Free Press would like to send a clear message to the Wal-Mart folks that we don?t need it in town. There isn?t anything the city council can do about it if it wants to locate here, but we as a community have plenty of power to make sure it doesn?t succeed with its new format.

The answer?

Don?t shop there. Ever.

Better yet, come into our office and sign a pledge to not walk into the doors of the big box store giant if it was to locate here.

What does supporting Wal-Mart say to people like Eric Driggers at Greenhaw Pharmacy? He grows up in Hillsboro, goes off to school to earn his degree, comes back home to buy a home and business and contribute to this community.

Isn?t that exactly what we want? Someone who comes home, contributes and wants to raise a family here.

Now Wal-Mart wants to come in and put him out? That can only happen if we allow it.

Tell our local retailers they matter and we want our services to stay local. What does it say about us if we aren?t willing to do that?

It tells potential business owners, just like Driggers, who would like to locate in Marion County, that we don?t want them here. We have Wal-Mart and isn?t that all we need? Ugh.

We have to speak out and continue the tradition of our communities being unique and interesting, encourage local ownership and start the fight before it has truly begun.

Ellsworth knows the stakes are high and has created an ?Ellsworth Strong? group to combat the big box giant and also encourage local downtown spending as much as possible. It is all about education for those folks who are fighting for their small community?s life and know it.

There are hundreds of stories about a Supercenter moving into a town with a 10,000-15,000 population and killing local stores, the personality of the community, and leaving just Wal-Mart there.

What do we think will happen if a smaller version with most of the advantages of the Supercenter moves into our backyards? The tale may be different but the end will be the same.

I encourage you all to stand with us, quit spending money with this company, and start shopping close to home.

The writing is on the walls. Will we read it and prepare or will we wait and take our fate when it comes?

If we fortify now and tell Wal-Mart we aren?t going to shop there, then maybe its tentacles might contract after it finds we are not a weak, slow-dying animal. It might go somewhere else when it finds out this prey?s got teeth.