Saturday, July 19, 2008

Super WalMart Opens

Finally, after many years of discussion, opining and hand wringing, the Minocqua Super WalMart opened on Wednesday. Prior to the opening and during the buildout phase, I had the chance to take a look-see. Not Bad! The exterior aesthetics are pleasing to the eye complete with some stone/ timbers/ dormers etc. And even WalMart has gone "green". When there is enough ambient light coming through the many skypanels, off go the lights. And when no one has strolled past the freezer cases in 45 seconds, off go the lights. They really are making great strides in the energy saving direction. And since Wednesday, my wife actually had a chance to shop it. (Sounds like someone who "fished" the lake or "ran" the rapids)

Here's the take on WalMart from the porch...for better or worse, they are now a neighbor 45 minutes to the south. We've given them so much air time out here Bruno leaves when he heres their name. Let's forget for a moment all of the hyperbole that is obvious and certainly not original. WalMart is here for one reason and that is that our greater area wanted them. We have said it through our pocketbooks, through our focus groups and through our shopping patterns. So here it is and it's (gulp) not bad.

We live in an area that is economically challenged. There are a few good jobs, but most of the work is minimum wage stuff in the service our retail sector. We are a resort area with a 4 month window of economic opportunity. Not only can't we afford gas at $4.25 per gallon, most of us can't afford cereal for our kids at $5 a box. Who can pay $3 for a loaf of bread? Don't forget kids who need dental care, eyeglasses and essential doctor visits. How can a family of four do that on $40,000 to $50,000 per year. You do it by watching your pennies! You're fishing when they're biting or getting your bird and deer limits when in season. Forget "the sport of it", that's for the freezer! And I think you survive with a lot of help from WalMart. They add great value to many lives up here from groceries, to clothing choices to many other home essentials. Yes, the landscape is forever changed and surely more big box retailers (The Home Depot/ Menards) will visit the doorstep of Minocqua. But we're all very patient when we say "That's okay". You can't turn back the clock.

When I was a young five year old boy from Chicago it would take us 14 hours to get up here. Within the next 5 years we will have four lanes of concrete bringing visitors to their "getaway"in a third that time. Think about the irony in that?. And still, that's okay too. Maybe it's just as simple as folks not wanting to getaway as much as they just want a change of scenery...but still with lifes essentials at a good price. My wife shopped WalMart and brought back some treats for our neighbors Toots and Al, Ina and Ernie and the Gustafsons. Now it's time for me to go down to the kitchen, toast up some delicious $1.79 a loaf bread and listen to the loons. And, as we say up here, WalMart...that's a "keeper"!

I’ve gotta run. Thanks for stopping by today and bringing the pie. All my love to you and yours, Elmer

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