Love ’em, then leave ’em. That’s Wal-Mart’s short story in Trotwood, Ohio. Trotwood is a community of roughly 28,000 people that lies along the first outer ring from Dayton. The city boasts of its rich farmland, scenic railway bikeway, and picturesque Olde Town district. The civic message is that Trotwood offers “affordable family living in a non-congested setting. City leaders say their community has “small town charm with big city advantages. “The community’s solid median income yields substantial buying power to support its regional shopping hub and drive more upscale housing to take root,” local officials say. The big community improvement project in the city is the demolition of the former Salem Mall, and the creation of the New Town Center development, known as The Landmark. The Mayor and his staff have worked hard “to elevate its urban-suburban amenities, and offer up its hometown values to attract more businesses and residents, by taking bold steps towards turning things around.” One of those “bold steps” must have been opening their arms to Wal-Mart store #1725 located on Salem Street. It’s a bold step that never paid off — because this week Wal-Mart officials in Arkansas decided that it was time to shut down Trotwood’s Wal-Mart. The 130 people who work at the Wal-Mart will be considered for jobs in neighboring stores, the company said. There are, after all, plenty of neighboring Wal-Marts. In fact, there are 11 additional Wal-Mart stores within 20 miles of Trotwood, 9 of which are supercenters. The supercenter on Hoke Road in Englewood is only 4 miles away from the Trotwood store. Wal-Mart admitted that its own supercenters killed off the discount store. Wal-Mart said after reviewing the customer base and customer demand in the Trotwood area, it found that customers are more drawn to the Englewood and Miller Lane Supercenters. “While we are saddened to leave the Trotwood community, this will allow us to focus on providing an increased level of service to our Trotwood customers at the Englewood and Miller Lane Supercenters,” said a public affairs manager for Wal-Mart. The store will close in October, according to the Dayton Business Journal, “due to decline in sales.”
The decline in sales, in this case, was an intentional self-inflicted wound. Wal-Mart has shut down hundreds of discount stores as the supercenters around them choked off sales at the smaller stores. This mass closing of discount stores by Wal-Mart is one of the largest shutdowns in retailing history, except for total chain-wide closings. In Wal-Mart’s case, the closure of stores like the one in Trotwood were simply because supercenters proved to be more profitable vehicles. The people in Trotwood will continue to enjoy their urban-suburban amenities — without their Wal-Mart. But they can drive 4 miles over to Englewood and experience true “hometown values” at the superstore. There was no reason for store #1725 in Trotwood to fail — except Wal-Mart greed. Perhaps by now, city officials in Trotwood realize that what they consider “small town charm” was just another pin in the map to Wal-Mart.