I Will Never Shop at Walmart. Period.

A Decatur resident writes in about her own experience with a Walmart and her thoughts on the retailer's expansion into North Decatur.

I'd like to add my two cents to the Suburban Plaza debate. First off, let me tell you where I live: south of Memorial Drive off Midway/Peachcrest. A few years back we had a big ruckus over the Walmart Supercenter that went in where the mall used to be. We picketed. We wrote letters. We petitioned.

Ultimately, Walmart came and did just as they pleased without building any sort of mixed use like they promised they would. The closest we got to "mixed use" is that a SunTrust bank opened up where the supposed condos were going to be. Nothing else was done.

In other words: We got screwed. The neighborhood has not improved one tiny bit. The surrounding area has not magically transformed into better quality stores. NOTHING. That corridor of Memorial Drive between Covington Highway, Columbia and Line Street is still just as ghetto as it ever was. The mall across the street has put some new paint on, but it's empty. Why? Because Walmart kills local stores, that's why. That Walmart paid its way into that location, local businesses and residents be damned. I'll never forgive them for that. Or for not upholding their agreement to build mixed use. Ditto for the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners.

Which brings us to Suburban Plaza. I've shopped there as long as I've lived here (more than two decades). I am a die-hard Big Lots shopper. While I agree that the mall is a bit shabby and the stores are off-price places and/or thrift, those stores being killed are owned by local people. Last Chance was tossed out of its previous location because the owners wanted an Indian mall. Now they are getting bounced from Suburban for a Walmart. As is the locally owned mattress company that we bought our mattresses from a couple of years ago. Not to mention the other shops getting bounced – all locally owned.

Might I point out the other Walmart is about three miles away? Do we really need two Walmarts within five minutes of each other? Really?

On one hand, it's a free country, and Selig Enterprises should be able to lease to anyone it wants. But the reality is that Walmart is killing a handful of local businesses just because it can. I do not buy the assertion that it's the only way to "upgrade" the mall. That is a lie. The way to upgrade the mall is to find some decent tenants and maintain the property, which Selig doesn't seem to want to do. I also reject the notion that another Walmart is what's needed when there's a huge one three miles away. I'm pretty sure the middle class soccer moms who live in the Medlock neighborhood can afford to drive three miles.

I was relieved to hear that Wally World would not displace my Big Lots, but I also shop at Last Chance and the mattress place, both of which I will miss. I find it repugnant that once again, Walmart will run roughshod over local merchants and even local opinion just because it has lots of cash to lay on the property owner.

It all comes down to the property owner having the board of commissioners in their pocket. Just like with the other Walmart, it was going to go in no matter what we locals had to say about it. It was a done deal. This one is a done deal too.

The only thing good I have to say about it is at least I'm keeping my Big Lots. I wouldn't shop at Walmart if it was the last store on Earth. Period.

Angela Pratt

yourpalkaren April 19, 2012 at 11:28 PM
Wow! Thanks for letting us know about promises broken in the other local Walmart --I agree with you about Selig --talk about the most 'passive' company --have they ever gone after any companies that they thought would fit the demo in Decatur? Doesn't seem like it.
Renee April 19, 2012 at 11:29 PM
I agree with you 100% Mal-wart is the devil as far as I'm concerned.
Louise runyon April 20, 2012 at 02:24 AM
Thank you for your article, Angela, and your strong stand in support of local business and against Walmart! I would only disagree with one thing: it's not a done deal! The sentiment against Walmart at Suburban Plaza is massive, and growing. It's not over till it's over, and ground has not broken. Nor will it, if we have our say. With all the yard signs popping up all over, I think the numbers are there to prompt Selig to another kind of thinking, and Walmart to second thoughts as to whether or not they really want to be in Decatur. Check out www.GoodGrowthDeKalb.org.
Donia Culberson April 20, 2012 at 02:39 AM
Amen!! What else can we do to prevent this from coming to suburban plaza? I've signed the petition. I have a sign. I do NOT want another WalMart in the Decatur area!! I have stopped shopping at all Walmarts since this stared. I like supporting local business and do NOT want this WalMart!!
Victoria Webb April 20, 2012 at 11:46 AM
Thanks for a great article, Angela. All the research has found that local business generates 3 times the revenue of Walmart and big-box chains - and it stays local, so it's not even a sound economic move for the area. The idea that it will create jobs is more bogus data. Walmart loses an average of over 3 jobs for every 2 it creates by pushing out business in the area. Write your local commissioners and Dekalb's Burrell Ellis to protest. Commissioners Jeff Radar and Kathie Gannon are two local officials who worked with neighborhood groups and Selig on the project. They need to hear loud complaints from many people in the area. As Louise suggests, we can stop this project with our combined efforts.
wle atlanta II April 20, 2012 at 12:04 PM
i like thrift stores. i like last chance, even. i like indian grocery stores too. question though, does an 'indian mall' trump a thrift store, or not? i can't tell the point of saying this.. wle.
Helen Lenkerd April 20, 2012 at 12:30 PM
We need for Wal-Mart to come!! Soccer moms, may be able to drive to Avondale or Tucker for other stores, but we have a lot of older people near Suburban Plaza too, and the driving is not hard. There is nothing in walking distance for an older person to buy simple things. If you don't like WalMart, then don't go there, but don't take it away from the rest of us who do. I love WalMart! Helen Lenkerd
Tammy April 20, 2012 at 01:20 PM
Walmart will win because capitalism always favors the company that can provide the goods at the lowest prices. Walmart is currently winning this battle. In time it will change to another company and everyone will hate them. If you don't like what you see you can always move to a place where they tweak the laws underpinning capitalism to give smaller companies a chance but in Georgia they fear doing this because they don't want to look anti business.
Staci April 20, 2012 at 03:07 PM
How can we take away something that's not yet there? Everyone seems to be doing just fine without Walmart. If you go to a Good Growth DeKalb meeting or survey the neighbors, you will see that most of the people retiree age and older are very much against this development. Plus, it's especially dangerous for senior citizens to walk to Suburban Plaza. Many of the surrounding neighborhoods don't have sidewalks and crossing any of the streets bordering the center is asking for trouble. Even ambulances have trouble getting through the six-way intersection of Medlock, Scott and North Decatur Road. There are a plethora of options available to the developers to help meet neighbor's wishes and needs besides a Walmart Supercenter the size of three football fields. Let's call for Selig to develop the shopping center (and do what it takes to make getting there without a car a viable option) into a pedestrian-friendly, neighborhood-friendly place to shop, dine and play!
Laura Martin April 20, 2012 at 04:20 PM
I'm a lifetime Decatur resident, and I NEVER have and NEVER will shop at Walmart. I encourage all around me that Walmart IS evil and kills local business with its cheap chitty chinese merchandise. This is NOT the USA friendly company that Sam Walton built! I now AVOID anything that has the name SELIG on it for threatening our community with the Walmart pestilence. Study the enemy at seligenterprises.com so that you may understand them, avoid their properties, and use their mailbox and phone to let them know how you feel. Same goes for Walmart. Money is the only thing either of them care about - not jobs, not their community.
Sally April 20, 2012 at 05:03 PM
Can't wait to shop at the Suburban Plaza Walmart. Can't wait.
Deanne April 20, 2012 at 05:12 PM
Louise- A better way for gauging sentiment (vs. the excitement of seeing yard signs) is to do the math. What percentage of folks have signed GGD's anti Walmart petition vs. the population of adults within Walmart's targeted radius around Suburban Plaza? Unless it bears out massive anti Walmart sentiment, it's doubtful that Selig or Walmart will question their plans-- and until GGD's petition is submitted, it's a non factor.
Deanne April 20, 2012 at 05:41 PM
GGD's apparently not yet reached the households of the seniors in Decatur Heights who are excited about Walmart coming. Not only did quite a few of our senior neighbors attend our community meeting with Selig and Walmart to see the plans, they also regularly ask me about it. Christian Towers' residents and the older congregations of the two churches by Suburban Plaza are looking forward to its arrival too. ( Helen- You're a very nice person to be so patient with these folks who keep trying to tell you what's best. :0)
Victoria Webb April 21, 2012 at 12:10 AM
There are hundreds of Stop Walmart signs all over the county, not just in Medlock, but they line the streets of neighborhoods in Druid Hills, Decatur and Avondale Estates. I am very impressed with the support that we've found from GGD's activism and outreach. Capitalism is at its worst in Walmart's model, which is actually begging to be broken up as an antitrust issue. Walmart's own complaints to the British gov't about the huge UK grocery chain Tesco are prescient. Barry Lynn's piece in Harpers magazine is a must read for anyone claiming to understand what this kind of 'capitalism' means for a supposed free market. http://harpers.org/archive/2006/07/0081115
prettyflower April 22, 2012 at 02:12 AM
I am ambivalent about the Wal-Mart development, but have my doubts about whether it can be "stopped." I also stopped shopping at Wal-Mart many years ago. There are many other corporations whose business practices I don't care for and also (try to) avoid, although not always successfully. Those include Amazon, Target, Home Depot, etc. Since you are someone who cares about the big picture, I greatly encourage you and others to consider boycotting those businesses and others, too! I lived near the Wal-Mart in Avondale when it was built. My personal feelings about Wal-Mart's business practices aside, IMO it has been neutral or maybe even good for that area. I didn't shop in any of the "small businesses" that existed in the area pre-WM and I'm pretty sure most of my neighbors didn't, either. That area has always been run-down (in the 7+ years since I moved there) and I don't think Wal-Mart made it worse. I am guessing that the Wal-Mart did encourage the coming of Aldi (which is owned by Trader Joe's) and Zaxby's (which I think is nasty, but other people seem to like...) and maybe a few other things in that area. My biggest fear right now is that Wal-Mart will come either way and that City of Decatur will swoop in and annex the area and get all of the tax revenue. That seems like a lose-lose situation for Medlock, which is a very diverse WORKING middle-class neighborhood and deserves better.
prettyflower April 22, 2012 at 02:45 AM
I will add that Avondale Mall was a horrific eyesore and I really AM glad that it is gone. It made Suburban Plaza look like Lenox Mall. Whether or not they could have attracted another business to redevelop that property is debatable, but IMO it's highly doubtful.
prettyflower April 22, 2012 at 02:46 AM
What are GGD's plans to address the expansion at Your DeKalb Farmer's Market?
Victoria Webb April 22, 2012 at 11:18 AM
Walmart made the NY Times business headlines yesterday - as in bribery charges that were hushed up in Mexico. The company is as corrupt as they come. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/22/business/at-wal-mart-in-mexico-a-bribe-inquiry-silenced.html?_r=1&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha2_20120422 "The Times’s examination uncovered a prolonged struggle at the highest levels of Wal-Mart, a struggle that pitted the company’s much publicized commitment to the highest moral and ethical standards against its relentless pursuit of growth."
Steve April 22, 2012 at 11:03 PM
@pretty - they don't have any response. The word "Wal" is not in the name.
Tom April 23, 2012 at 11:03 AM
I couldn't agree with you more. I received a Walmart gift card at Christmas from a former employer. I remember looking around the store and finally deciding that I didn't want anything. It's all junk from China. I think Walmart is a plague on America.
Stentor June 15, 2013 at 04:27 AM
I will never, ever, ever, shop at Wal-Mart. They can take their stores, their advertising, & stick it where the sun does not shine. The Waltons don't need anymore money, & I don't intend to ever give them any of mine.


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