The voters of Ravalli County voted to repeal the zoning laws that essentially prohibited Big Box stores from being built. They clearly support and want Wal Mart in their community.
The Missoulian has a great opinion piece today explaining how the small businesses in Ravalli County can and should compete. It's going to take some effort and creativity and many will fail but they will be replaced by those who find a niche and exploit it.
Most important, however, is how they, the local retailers, treat their employees. That will have to improve in order for them to be competitive. The editorial had this to say which mirrors what I have said in previous blogs and in comments defending Wal Mart in other's blogs.
Treat your employees well. The rap on large retailers is that they don't pay well and are miserly about benefits. In fact, however, some of them pay their employees better and offer better benefits than small local merchants. The first step for any merchant worried about big box stores coming to town should make certain pay and benefits are competitive and - this should be the easier part - working conditions are good. Employees working for local merchants can aid their employers' survival and improve their own situations by finding ways to become more productive. Higher productivity makes higher pay possible.
Congratulations to Ravalli County employees and customers. The introduction of Wal Mart will force better prices, a higher level of service, better wages, better benefits, and better career opportunities!