You can’t really feel too bad for the people in Warr Acres. As the saying goes: those who fail to understand history, are doomed to repeat it.The good people of Warr Acres are apparently steaming over a plan by Wal-Mart to shut down their discount store in Warr Acres and open up a supercenter in northwest Oklahoma City. If residents read the March 5, 1995 New York Times Article “When Wal-Mart Pulls Out, What’s Left?”, they would have known the drill in advance. In towns like Nowata, Pawhuska, and Bixby, Wal-Mart has already played its cards for all to see. They shut down discount stores in these 3 towns to open up a supercenter in Bartlesville. “They came in and ravaged all the small businesses,” said the President of the First National Bank of Nowata. “And when it came to the point where they were not satisfied, they left.” Now its Warr Acres’ turn. Mayor Tommy Pike says that his town will lose $500,000 in sales taxes when Wal-Mart closes, which is nearly 8% of the community’s annual budget. Wal-Mart’s local real estate manager told reporters that in fact the Warr Acres store is likely to become history. The Mayor says he was told his town’s store will be shut down within a year. The discount store in Warr Acres is not small thing: it’s 120,000 s.f., which is the size of Wal-Mart’s small supercenter. But Wal-Mart wants it bigger, and says it has no room to expand. “I’ve said all along they’d move,” Mayor Pike said, “with them going to the super stores. Ours just isn’t big enough.”
How many more towns in Oklahoma will get killed twice: once when Wal-Mart comes in, and again when they move out. The closing out of huge discount stores, some of them less than 10 years old, has become an uncomfortable pattern for Wal-Mart. But if you told Mayor Pike don’t get too cozy with Wal-Mart, their store may not be here too long, would he have believed you? Last year Wal-Mart boasted of having sold or leased 10 million square feet of “once-occupied stores”. Wal-Mart leaves Warr Acres with a hole in their real estate, and a hole in their budget. It was all foretold.