Local News

Mayor, Some Shop Owners Do Not Want To See Wal-Mart In Wake Forest

Posted July 29, 2002

— In Wake Forest, a new Wal-Mart has got people fired up. Some say the discount retailer should high-tail it out of town.

Downtown Wake Forest has shops, quiet streets and no Wal-Mart. Mayor Vivian Jones wants to keep it that way.

"Wal-Mart just puts the little guy out of business, and I just don't want that for Wake Forest," she said.

The new Home Depot in the area is pulling in a lot of business. There is also a Super Target store under construction that is set to open next year. Jones said she welcomes these stores, but she said Wal-Mart's philosphy is different.

"They come into a town. They build a big store then sell things at cost or below until they run all of the local people out of business, then they raise their prices," she said.

Many shoppers in the area said they would welcome Wal-Mart, but many shopkeepers would not.

Nancy Tebeau runs Not Just For Kids Bookstore in town. She is worried because of what she learned in a University of Iowa study.

"Eighty-four percent of the dollars that were spent at Wal-Marts were taken from local, existing businesses. It's not that 84 percent more dollars are spent in the community, it's 84 percent of the dollars are shifted away from the small businesses," she said. "We would lose our downtown."

Local developers said Wal-Mart wants to be in Wake Forest because of the growth of new homes. Town government sources say Wal-Mart is most interested in the site near U.S. Highway 1 and Highway 98. They also said, despite the opposition, construction of a Wal-Mart in town could start in as little as six to nine months.

WRAL tried to talk to Wal-Mart store managers in Raleigh, but they referred us to the home office in Arkansas. WRAL left several messages there for the company's director of real estate, but he did not return our calls.

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