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When Wal-Mart opened its store last year, it didn't exactly devastate the neighborhood. Instead it filled the very space Macy's abandoned and brought cheaper-priced items to the area. It also brought 450 jobs; the average pay is more than $9.50 according to Kanelos, just above the $8.71 average wages earned by unionized workers in a typical Vons or Safeway. For an area with unemployment rates in the double-digits, Wal-Mart seems to many a godsend.
"For years the complaint has been that many small mom-and-pop stores often provide poor quality at high prices and in many instances with service that is not acceptable. But you go into Wal-Mart and you find the prices are good, the service is great, and the store is spotlessly clean," said former L.A. Police Chief-turned-city councilman Bernard Parks, an opponent of the anti-Wal-Mart ordinance, to the Business Journal last year.
Future poor neighborhoods could benefit from Wal-Mart's expansion as well, in part because of the land-intense nature of its superstores. Each one, which will take up 200,000 square feet in space, requires 25 acres of land. The best source of available land? Some of the abandoned buildings that dot much of South Central and East L.A.
Will any of this come into play when L.A. officials gets around to considering the anti-big box ordinance? Likely not.