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10:04 PM Sat, Feb. 23rd

Harber Lights: Wal-Mart Supercenter to hurt some stores whether inside the city or nearby

It surprised me to be mentioned so quickly in a Letter to the Editor because I haven't been working here for very long.

And it wasn't insulting!

Yippee! Thank you very much.

The letter writer mentioned that I came here from Carson City, Nev., where a Wal-Mart deserted the city for greener pastures nearby.

After years of doing business in Carson City, last summer the Wal-Mart supersized and relocated to neighboring Douglas County, Nev., not far from the imaginary dividing line between the two places.

With little empty space for business owners to build sites that would best suit their needs, they moved to a place where they could build to specification: Douglas County.

And Douglas County was more welcoming than Carson City.

Douglas wasn't selling the souls of their politicians or even giving away free canned hams to anyone who wanted to do business there.

They offered incentives that Carson wasn't willing or able to provide.

Carson's residents were urged to shop within the city's borders so their sales tax money is spent to service them, not the residents of Douglas.

This idea became more difficult to practice when Carson's Kmart closed earlier this year because of bad corporate business practices and apparent malfeasance among its top executives.

The big box store closures caused shopping choices within the city limits to be minimal.

The situation wasn't so bad that people had to run around town buck naked or eat stew without plates and silverware.

It was just unsuitable for choosier consumers.

For example, Mervyn's, JC Penney and Gottschalk's allow families to buy decent, fashionable clothes in Carson.

There is a Lowe's for do-it-yourselfers.

And there is a small array of specialty stores offering many useful and whimsical items.

For more expensive products, however, Carson shoppers patronize stores in nearby Reno, Nev.

and, often, travel for hours to buy stuff in Sacramento or San Francisco.

Now they can travel to Douglas to buy some products that were once only available far away.

Before Wal-Mart and Kmart came to Carson, there were many more small specialty stores, long-time residents would say.

These long-timers would also emphasize that the big stores simply bring large numbers of a few things to town.

This has its good and bad aspects.

People were shopping outside of the city for some items before Wal-Mart and Kmart arrived.

They still were shopping out of town after these stores opened.

The big box stores, however, caused shoppers to stop patronizing some smaller stores.

This resulted in those smaller stores going belly up.

The disappearance of the smaller stores caused many unique products to be unavailable, so people had to leave town to buy that stuff, too.

Some people blamed Carson's politicians and bureaucrats for Wal-Mart's departure.

Not me.

Many businesses tried to make it in Carson City and failed.

Empty buildings dotted the city's main thoroughfares.

The structures that housed the failed enterprises were simply left there by the short-sighted corporations that created them.

The old Wal-Mart building is the latest target location for Max Baer Jr's huge gaming and lodging resort, Jethro's Beverly Hillbillies Mansion & Casino.

The entrepreneur wants to open it early next year, much to the chagrin of more easily embarrassed Carsonites.

Putting a resort that big in a city of about 50,000 people who are used to much smaller gaming and lodging facilities is a big gamble for Baer, the city and its residents.

It could repel or attract tourists and encourage or discourage patronage of surrounding businesses.

It's a little like Wal-Mart's plan for a super center here in Kingman.

It'll be like a gigantic fish in a teenie-weenie pond.

I believe it will kill off some of the smaller fish.

There are many grocery stores here in Kingman, though most people don't like how these businesses are situated on one side of the city.

Be prepared to watch one or more of these markets — and a couple of smaller shops — disappear.

No one ever said capitalism wasn't cruel.

Terri Harber is the Miner's news editor.