Small business owners along upper Georgia Avenue last week announced drastic drops in revenue nearly a year after Walmart opened a supercenter in the neighborhood. “The day Walmart opened was the last day I had good sales here,” said Jose Chavez, the owner of Usulután Grocery at 5768 Georgia Ave NW. The new report, compiled by the neighborhood group Ward 4 Thrives and the Respect DC coalition, echoes the findings of previous studies on the impact of Walmart and other big box retail on nearby small businesses...
Almost a year after Walmart opened its supercenter at the intersection of Georgia and Missouri Avenues in December 2013, local business owners are calling on the DC Council and the Mayor’s office to provide tax abatement and relief, increase parking accessibility, and provide support for developing new business and new products to prevent their stores from going out of business.
Small business owners report that the city catered to Walmart by removing storefront parking for their stores and relocating a bus stop to sit directly in front of Walmart. These changes combined with Walmart’s undercutting prices have reduced small business revenues by an estimated 20-85%, according to the proprietors. Walmart’s entry into the Brightwood neighborhood has already yielded hour cuts and layoffs at small businesses and threatens to shutter several businesses if the city does not step in to mitigate the retail giant’s impact.
“I have customers that tell me, ‘I want to come to your store, but the bus drops me at Walmart,’” said Usulután Grocery Jose Chavez, who estimates he’s lost 85% of his revenue since Walmart opened.
DC Medical Supply, in business since 2006 selling specialty medical goods, reports an estimated 25% loss of revenue since Walmart’s opening.
A study published in 2008 in the Journal of Urban Economics found that 1.4 retail jobs are lost for every Walmart job created as existing businesses close or reduce payroll. Numerous studies have also concluded that locally owned businesses return more spending to a local economy, such as this study of New Orleans published in 2009. A copy of the report compiled by Ward 4 Thrives and Respect DC is available online