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Walmart closing causes concerns

By Staff | Sep 17, 2017

News travels fast in a small town.

Good news, bad news, even false news, gossip and rumors.

It has always been that way, I guess. It used to be by word of mouth, told at morning coffee, at work and maybe after church on Sunday morning.

News of who died, which team won the game, who was drunk in the bar on Saturday night.

Now, with our all our modern technology, this kind of small town “news” travels even faster via smart phones and social media like Facebook, Twitter, texting and email.

Heck, I was on vacation and sitting on a beach on the East Coast when my phone lit up with all kinds of messages that told me Walmart in Blue Earth was closing just moments after the big banner went up on the side of the building which said “Store Closing.”

I was over 1,000 miles away and yet I might have known about it before some of the people in Blue Earth did.

Ah, modern technology. You gotta love it.

Losing any business in a small town these days is certainly not good news. Losing one the size of Walmart which employs 80 people is really bad news and a big blow to the community.

It has been a hot topic in the community as people talk about it, wonder what will happen to the employees there and speculate why it happened. There have even been rumors about what might happen to the building.

And that is all being done on the so-called “social media” network.

Ah, technology. Not sure I really love it.

Unfortunately, speculating about the Walmart store closing and spreading rumors and laying out blame spreads fast on the Internet, whether it is true or not.

City administrator Tim Ibisch has been bombarded so much that last Thursday he prepared a written statement as to what he and the mayor and City Council have done about the situation, after folks put on Facebook that the city was doing nothing about it and even blaming them for the closing.

Turns out, the city fathers had contacted Walmart and tried to get them to change their minds, to no avail. And the City Council and the EDA are already contacting the building owners (Walmart does not own the building, they only lease it) and working with everyone they can to try and fill that building with a new business as soon as possible.

And no, the city of Blue Earth did not ever turn down the opportunity to have this Walmart turned into a Super Walmart, despite what you might be reading on social media. Blue Earth did not say no to Walmart 10 years ago and so they built a Super Walmart in Fairmont instead of here.

That is one rather disturbing and nasty rumor that seems to be circulating on Facebook.

Really? You think the city of Blue Earth would turn down an opportunity to increase its tax base and the chance to add jobs to the local work force?

I checked with several council members, current and past city administrators and mayors. The Facebook story making the rounds is simply not true.

Walmart never approached the city about putting a super store here.

And the particularly nasty rumor being spread on Facebook that Tom Juba of Juba’s SuperValu was the one who would not allow a Super Walmart to be built in Blue Earth is also totally not true.

And yet people are believing this stuff. Are they really that stupid? I guess so.

Ah, technology. I?think I might hate it.

If you want to blame someone for Walmart closing in Blue Earth, put the blame where it belongs. Walmart. It is totally their business decision to close this store. It was also totally their decision where to build a Super Walmart. Or where not to build one.

Trust me, they didn’t check with Tom Juba to see if he would allow them to build one of their massive stores here in Blue Earth.

People, Walmart is a monster size corporation. They pretty much do what they want. And where they want and when they want.

So try and remember two things.

Just because you see it on Facebook and the Internet does not mean it is true. Even though the girl from the State Farm commercial used to say ‘They can’t put it on the Internet if it isn’t true.’ She was wrong.

And second, try and do as much of your shopping locally as you can. We don’t need any more of our businesses to close up shop. Shopping locally is important vitally important to the survival of our small towns.

Let’s put that kind of message out on social media for a change.