Less than a year ago, Washington DC luminaries cut a ribbon to open the Georgia Avenue Walmart, a superstore within an urban neighborhood. Now, as has been seen all through the hollowed-out cores of small town America,
[S]mall business owners whose shops are located near the Walmart in Brightwood say they're in danger of closing and need the city's help.
This is where free-market enthusiasts and libertarians chime in to say that Walmart is doing precisely what it does best, and that the last thing needed is government intervention.
But the story is more complex than that. Kamran Qureshi, who has owned a store directly across the street from the new superstore for 13 years, points to the removal of on-street parking that was done to favor Walmart.
"The District government removed the spaces to create a turning lane for cars entering [Walmart's] garage," the Post reported at the time.
Ten months later, that's still Qureshi's main issue, as customers can no longer park out front to make a quick stop. "Now, those good 40 percent customers from driving aren't coming anymore," he said.
"This is one thing they did completely in favor of Walmart," Qureshi said, adding that Walmart passengers can "unfairly" load and unload in front of the store. "They have done their best to put us out of business."
[T]he owner of the DC Medical Supply, reports a 25 percent decrease in revenue since wheelchair-accessible street parking was removed, while Jose Chavez of Usulután Grocery estimates an 85 percent loss in sales since a bus stop was relocated from his store to in front of Walmart.
This isn't a case of spirited free-market capitalism. DC not only created an uneven playing field between the big box retailer and longtime local businesses, they literally reshaped the streetscape in which business was being performed.
As is often the case, large corporate interests benefit from favorable governmental intervention even as they publicly chafe against regulation. Walmart had threatened to pull out of the District entirely before the then-mayor vetoed a City Council measure that would have required them to pay a living wage to their workers.
(Read the full story in dcist.)