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Old Town shops not afraid
of Wal-Mart shadow

Posted November 9, 2005

Andres Rivera
Staff Writer

The battle over whether a Wal-Mart store will hamper local businesses or become an asset to the community is constant. When a Wal-Mart store comes a town, the threat to small businesses and labor union debates reignite. In Chino, the negative criticisms were not as apparent as in other cities. La Verne may be just as welcoming of the chain store.

When Chino agreed to have a Wal-Mart built, the proposal was approved easily by the city. The store was built and has had a positive effect on the growing community according to Chino Valley Chamber of Commerce President Bruce Wood.

“It hasn’t had a negative effect from a retail stand point, since the community has been growing,” Wood said.

However, as preparations for an expansion of the store began, negative opinions rose in the community. The expansion would change the regular Wal-Mart store into a Superstore complete with a grocery sections. Union grocery workers lead the disapproval of the Wal-Mart Superstore.

Pauline Romero, a manager at an Albertsons in Chino said she agrees with the grocery workers’ stance.

“Wal-Mart doesn’t have unions and pays very little,” she said.

These grocery workers did not want the Wal-Mart to include a grocery section in the store. Their protests were too late, since the city had already approved the plans, Wood said. Nothing can be done now to change the plans.

Romero believes that overall business will not suffer much. The store may lose customers at first, but they will return, she said.

With slightly negative reactions circulating in Chino, how would La Verne residents and businesses react if Wal-Mart considered La Verne as a new site?

The potential impact on Old Town La Verne, for example, may not be as big as some may want to believe. In fact, some stores believe they would not be affected at all.

“I don’t know that it would,” Verdena Dunkley, store clerk for Ellsworth’s Stationers, said a La Verne Wal-Mart would not necessarily affect the store.

Ellsworth’s Stationers, located on D Street, sells cards, gifts and office supplies. Dunkley believes that a Wal-Mart store would not interfere with this business because of the type and quality of their merchandise.

Some of their products may be considered high-class. They have cards, gift-wrap, dishes and a great variety of other merchandise. Dunkley has gone to Wal-Mart to buy wrapping paper on the occasion that she did not have time to go to work and found the prices to be the same, if not more at Wal-Mart.

“This store has its benefits,” Dunkley said. Customers can shop for specialty items and office supplies and use the post office and Western Union, she said.

Dunkley believes that people who buy the merchandise in Ellsworth’s Stationers do so because of the quality and the premium status of the merchandise. She boasts the fact that the store carries one of the top candles in the market.

“I think people would rather like a place that looked and smelled pretty instead of going to a Wal-Mart store,” Dunkley said.

Other stores around Old Town also feel that their business would not be affected by Wal-Mart, if one were to be built. Some of the businesses stressed that their quality of merchandise was a factor as Dunkley did.

Molly Mcgrath, a La Verne resident, agrees with the stores in that smaller businesses have a certain appealing charm. The charm, however, would not be enough for Mcgrath to choose smaller stores over Wal-Mart.

She chooses Wal-Mart stores because of the convenience, prices and hours of operation, Mcgrath said.

Andres Rivera can be reached at airvera3@ulv.edu.