Walmart’s decision to not build these stores was announced last Friday and is part of the larger plan to close 269 stores around the world, although the three existing Walmart stores in Washington D.C. will stay open. The three stores that were built in D.C. were part of a deal that the giant retailer would also build two stores in the cities poorest neighborhoods, east of the river where the majority of the residents are African American.
“I’m blood mad,” D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) said at a Friday news conference.
“It’s an outrage,” said former mayor Vincent C. Gray (D), who in 2013 completed the handshake deal for the stores. “This is devastating and disrespectful to the residents of the East End of the District of Columbia.”
“The optics of this are horrible; they are not going to build the stores east of the river, in largely African American neighborhoods? That’s horrible; you can’t do that,” Evans said. “A deal’s a deal.”
Walmart officials met with the mayor and apologized, saying plans and economics had changed and that large, urban Walmarts cost more to build and operate than they’d expected. City Councilman Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) was in the meeting and said Walmart officials went into more detail with the reasons for the decision,
He said the company cited the District’s rising minimum wage, now at $11.50 an hour and possibly going to $15 an hour if a proposed ballot measure is successful in November. He also said a proposal for legislation requiring D.C. employers to pay into a fund for family and medical leave for employees, and another effort to require a minimum amount of hours for hourly workers were compounding costs and concerns for the retailer.
And I’ll be damned if this isn’t happening in an election year. It’s a safe bet that many of the democrat voters in D.C. are in the East End that will now have no Walmart stores, so that kind of explains the outrage, doesn’t it?