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article imageWal-Mart Asking for Truce in War with Portland

By Carol Forsloff     Dec 24, 2009 in Business
Portland, Oregon values its small businesses and its own brand of individualism. It isn't a Wal-Mart town, like other cities and small towns across the country. Wal-Mart and Portland have been at war, and now the big chain has asked for a truce.
The truce comes with a request to build another Wal-Mart in the Portland area. Right now there is only one Wal-mart in Portland. The big box store declares it will bring jobs to the area if it launches a second store. The Mayor, however, maintains that he doesn't want to see the Wal-Mart breed of business in his town and threatens to run them off again, but the big boys from the big chain just aren't giving in. They want peace along with good prices and believe they can do Portland some good if they have a bigger presence than they have now.
According to the Portland Oregonian today, Wal-Mart is trying for a third time to get Mayor Samuel Adams and Portland to embrace a planned second Portland store on the city's northern edge. Portland, with its pride in going green and its affection for the local, the small and the sustainable, isn't ready to rush right out as other places do. The retailer has shuddered and retreated under the withering gaze of Mayor Adams, but this time it's making a try to build a site off Portland's Interstate 5. Still if Wal-Mart wins the first battle, the war won't be over because fight over wages, health care and trade practices will likely be next, given Portland history.
Over the years Wal-Mart has had its share of critics. A documentary made in 2005 dramatized some of Wal-Mart's business practices The documentary about the global retail giant is charged in the film with participating in "immoral, illegal and harmful business practices." Interviews with former Wal-Mart employees, small business owners and community members were used to validate the criticisms made.
Wal-Mart wants to build its second store in Portland in the north area of the city in a location called Hayden Meadows. Company spokesmen maintain this will create 300 new jobs for the area.
While Portland, Oregon stands ready to wave away any white flag offered by Wal-Mart in its war with the town, other places, especially in the South, have embraced Wal-Mart world. In places like Natchitoches, Louisiana, for example, most people shop at Wal-Mart because it is about the only place in a town of 18,000 where many items, especially electronics, toys and other specialties, can be purchased. No one protests there, but in Portland, where protest is part of the culture itself, as reminded by the Oregonian, it is likely Wal-Mart will continue to struggle in a never-ending war with the town, unless they come up with a new strategy to win the hearts and minds of the people.
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