Walmart will soon be opening a new store in Bentonville, NY – just off of Walden Avenue. Those not from the area would not be aware of something that happened over 20 years ago, but is still very much in the public consciousness of the community.
A young woman who worked at a food court in a Mall on Walden Avenue got off the bus and started to cross the street. As she stepped out from behind the bus, she was hit and killed by a dump truck moving with traffic. The image of that death is still very vivid in the community, especially in some of the less affluent areas, those who would be more likely to take buses.
So, along comes a new Walmart about to be opened and despite six months of requests from the local transit authority for Walmart to provide a place in their parking area where a bus can drop off customers, they didn’t do anything, until it seemed to be too late. Meaning the only place workers and customers would be able to get on or off public transportation was across the six-lane major thoroughfare and the store’s massive parking area.
The bad news must have finally made it to corporate headquarters that they were facing a possible PR crisis as community members were forming groups to boycott the store and picket the grand opening in April. Ummm, hello, where will much of their sales come from there? Certainly not from those driving expensive sports cars and limos.
The Rev. Darius Pridgen, a minister and the Common Council Member, said, “I think you had people at corporate headquarters who didn’t know the local issues. I think they’re now open to finding ways to make this work.”
Walmart is now up to speed on the issues and says at the very least they will make arrangements so the bus can drop people at the area where delivery trucks are unloaded. Hopefully, they can come up with an even better alternative before the grand opening. That way, the bus will deliver happy and smiling customers instead of sign-wielding, shouting locals determined not to buy anything at the store until concessions are made.
Ignoring multiple requests from government entities and your customers is not a good way to build business, even when you are a giant corporation. Aside from that, it is good business to bring people as close to your door as possible whenever you can – not six lanes and a huge parking lot away. Make it easy for them to visit you often and they are more likely to do just that.