Make big box stores prove their worth

Letter to the editor

Posted: Thursday, March 04, 2004

As nice as a big box would seem, what are the economic impacts of a big box store? When a big box opens a store they expect to do $3.5 million in sales monthly, over $40 million a year. How is our community going to support this?

I will tell you how. What product lines do big boxes offer? They offer gardening supplies, glass and window treatments, plumbing, floor coverings, clothing, toys, paint, electrical, and building and remodeling supplies. The local retailers in our community who currently provide this merchandise need to have information before them that they may be able to make plans in order to survive.

This is not an issue that affects a limited number of us in Juneau. This affects all of us.

If a big box does come to town, over the next three to five years I see 30 smaller businesses going bankrupt or leaving town. A big box moving in does not broaden the tax base for city revenues but rather redistributes it. The city, instead of diversifying its tax base, has made a large consolidation. In the mean time our local money is now migrating to out of state.

What other national stores have come to Juneau only to fail? Payless, Wendy's, Burger King, JC Penny, K-Mart, LaMont's, Pizza Hut, Baskin Robbins, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Sears, Pay-N-Save, Super RX-All, Toys-R-Us. Who did I miss?

So the big box comes to town, Juneau is ecstatic and warmly embraces the new retailer, as we always do. The big box responds by hiring a 150 part-time people at minimum wage, 30 hours a week (split-shift) and no benefits. These dutiful employees go to work to collect a paycheck that won't cover the rent. The imported managers, who may actually make a living wage, can't wait to leave Juneau.

I believe it is in Juneau's best interest to require a socio-economic impact statement of all businesses that wish to open a store larger than 50,000 square feet. We have precedence with this type of ordinance with what we have required of mining companies.

Tom Nelson


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