The Walmart Next Door

WalmartSignI meet regularly with my friend David Rucker, who is very active in several organizations and the president of at least two of them. We generally meet in one of the meeting rooms at the Village Square on Goldwyn Ave. Sometimes we walk the halls an look at Black commerce at work. The salons, barber shops, restaurants, attorney offices, accountant offices and other Black businesses were proud to be located in a building where Black commerce has been housed for decades.

 

There were fresh vegetables, and retail clothing stores, of course there are conference rooms, one of three Urban League Offices is located on the premise, C and C Pharmacy is on the ground floor and even City Commissioner Sam Ings occupied office space in the building for a while.

David and I met at the Village Square a few weeks ago to discuss ideas for a months long fund raising project for multiple local nonprofit organizations. I arrived early and decided to take a tour of the building as I normally do.

I noticed an apparent lack of activity. I had my choice ofCandCsign parking spaces because there were very few cars in the parking lot. I went inside to wait for David and I didn't see a single person walking the halls downstairs as I moved about the building. Only a few of the offices were open for business. As I walked the hall and looked into the shops, the few storekeepers stared back at me and I imagine they were hoping that I would come in a buy something or spend some money and support them in some way.

I went upstairs and walked around the halls and didn't see a single person. I did hear voices coming from one of the offices. I went into the conference room to wait for David who soon arrived and we had our meeting.


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Since that day, whenever I drive down Goldwyn Blvd., I take notice of the nearly empty parking lot of the once thriving Black commerce building known as Village Square, formerly Wilcox Mall, and compare that to the nearly full parking lot of 

VillageSquarethe Community Walmart that recently opened just a block away.

Our community leaders told us that the Walmart Grocery Store would create jobs for the Washington Shores residents. Bishop Alan Wiggins of the Hope Church, was a very strong supporter of Walmart coming to our community. We should ask Bishop Wiggins if he still believes that bringing Walmart to Washington Shores is the best that he could have done.

During a closed forum, Dr. Spooney, President of African American Chamber of Commerce thought that Walmart would be good for Black business. We should ask Dr. Spooney how many Black contractors were used in the construction of the Walmart building.


Allie Braswell, President of Central Florida Urban League gave a wonderful but misleading snapshot of all the good that Walmart would bring to us. We should ask Allie Braswell how many local residents are working at this Walmart and earning a livable wage.

Sam Ings, Orlando City Council member sent in a video tape proclaiming support for the project. We should ask Sam Ings if he was able to get the same tax breaks for local Black owned businesses that Walmart received.

At the Walmart grand opening, many of our leaders stood out front proclaiming this opening a great success. All of them fail us. None are being held accountable. This accountability issue must change. They all say that this was good for the community. They should ask the merchants in Village Square what they think of the Walmart next door.

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