Superstore Expansion? This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This work has won the Teen Ink contest in its category.

February 21, 2010
Imagine a local record store, the perfect place to hang out with friends, listen to good music, and enjoy the atmosphere. Now imagine the store driven out of business by a superstore. The goods cost less but the selection is generic. Rare records and handmade items get replaced by Top-40 CDs and conveyor-belt offspring. A once-unique local plaza, a hotspot for community life, transforms into the clone of thousands of identical shopping centers nationwide. A diverse marketplace creates a healthy community. The expansion of superstores must be checked in order to minimize the negative impact on local communities.

When superstores enter local areas, they drive smaller stores out of business and prevent new ones from opening. Whenever a new superstore appears, local businesses lose customers to the big-box giant. Mom-and-Pop stores, a staple of American culture, cease to exist, and other local attractions like restaurants lose business when the number of retailers in the area declines. Many communities have opposed the invasion of new superstores, but only some have been successful fighting these huge companies.

Superstores treat their employees poorly, paying low wages, offering limited benefits, and restricting union membership. According to the Walmart website, the average wage of an employee is $11.62 an hour. For a 34-hour work week, this salary totals $20,544.16 annually. The 2009 Federal Poverty Guidelines sets the poverty line for a family of four at $22,050. Walmart employees often rely on Medicaid because they cannot afford or qualify for the company's health insurance. This dependence hurts all Americans because taxpayers fund these government programs.

Superstores may even treat their employees poorly to encourage a high turnover rate, thereby avoiding handing out bonuses or raises. Many superstores do not allow employees to join unions. Some, namely the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, have fought to prevent new stores from opening due to this practice.

Superstores also hurt U.S. citizens by raising taxes. According to Dan Coleman's 2006 Gale Group article “Walmart Exploits Workers and Communities,” a congressional study found that a typical Walmart costs local taxpayers $420,000 a year. This covers health care for employees' children, low-income family deductions, and housing assistance. In addition, local governments often provide funds, taxpayer money, to aid in the construction of a new superstore.

Charging low, low prices on products causes superstores to cut costs elsewhere, specifically, employees' paychecks. Imagine someone giving blood, then taking it back. Low prices may seem like a good deal, but they carry a heavy burden.

Undoubtedly, superstores are very popular. The main arguments in support of such establishments are that consumers benefit from the low prices and the jobs the stores provide. However reputable these stores may be, they earn customers' trust, and money, through a slick scheme. At first, low prices are very attractive, but the money saved eventually ends up benefiting the store when used to pay taxes aiding its employees. These prices consequently drive others out of business, and while new jobs become available, the ones lost in the process do not receive compensation.

While saving money feels great, the consequences of low prices often outweigh the bargain. Superstores limit business, increase poverty, and raise taxes. These stores seem to be spreading like wildfire across the nation and sucking the life out of communities in the process. While it's impossible to completely eliminate superstores, their expansion can be prevented. Instead of shopping at the local Walmart, find an independently owned business and shop there.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

This work has won the Teen Ink contest in its category. This piece won the December 2010 Teen Ink EBSCO POV Contest.

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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

Treefiddy said...
Nov. 3, 2010 at 1:03 pm
$11.62 an hour for unexperienced labor? I don't know about you but that's pretty d.amn good to me, especially for relatively unexperienced labor.
Treefiddy replied...
Nov. 3, 2010 at 1:05 pm
If you want, go on youtube and search "penn and teller bs walmart". It will change your mind on Walmart.
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