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Wal-mart's arrival challenges local business to adapt

In many ways, Wal-mart is as red, white and blue as the national colors that figure prominently in its store brands and promotions -- after all, what could be more intrinsically American than Wal-mart's incredible rise to dominate the retailing landscape of this country in the last decade?

Wal-mart recently came to flex its prodigious marketing muscles in Taylor County. As in many small communities across our nation, the mega-chain has been welcomed by Taylor officials.

The influx of new, local jobs by a major employer, and the return of a retail chain store to the Grafton area is welcome news. We know that many residents will appreciate the convenience of one-stop shopping that Wal-mart offers consumers.

We can appreciate the positive effects of Wal-mart. At the same time, we can recognize that other Taylor retailers are in for a period of adjustment -- and for some bumps in the road to success.

As in many small communities where Wal-mart has opened, the reshuffling of local buying habits that occurs has consequences for nearby stores. Some Grafton merchants have already noted some change in their customers' habits.

The nature of business is change -- the general store, the harness maker, and the barber who offered a good bleeding in addition to a shave -- these relics of the past are no longer with us. But the red stripes of the barber pole remind us that business has always shifted gears and changed when the market demanded.

Above all, competition brings with it the need to promote and market. Despite the changes in the market, opportunities to develop customer loyalties and offer unique services are greater than ever.

Taylor County has no choice but to adapt -- but that can be an opportunity to change for the better. We encourage private business and public officials to work together to maximize the positive changes in Taylor County.

Harry M. Fox

Telegram Editorial Board member

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