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Small businesses concerned about the arrival of Walmart in Tsawwassen

Last Updated Jan 27, 2017 at 7:36 pm PDT

(Courtesy Maclean's Magazine)

TSAWWASSEN (NEWS 1130) – Small business owners in South Delta are nervously hoping there’s room for everyone in the community as the latest Walmart opens in Metro Vancouver.

Marlene Flumerfelt who owns the local toy store Toys and Tech is concerned about her business and the long-term impact on her neighbourhood.

“This is their livelihood. This is how they pay for their mortgage and their children’s education and everything else,” she says. “If these little businesses aren’t able to sustain themselves then there will be empty leased places and landlords will be a little concerned and then the look of the community may change.”

A retail analyst admits it’s going to be a tough-go for a lot of small businesses now that the biggest of big box stores has arrived in South Delta.

David Ian Gray with DIG 360 says only merchants that up their game will survive.

“The issue here is it’s not one of stopping Walmart, it’s one of how do we raise the bar so that it rounds out shopper opportunities?”

Gray says that means being unique and offering a better customer service than Walmart.

He says there is a divide between how people view Walmart in rural areas versus urban.

“We found that people who lived in smaller towns or in the ‘burbs, people who were on tighter incomes, they saw Walmart as a good corporate citizen because they were enabling a family to clothe and feed their children and they were hiring,” he says. “But people in the urban areas who may be a bit more affluent would see Walmart as a bad corporate citizen because of their broader labour practices and the impact they may have on small retail.”