I was saddened to hear that you closed your 83rd and Stewart Street store. The Black community is basically filled with good people, but our bad apples can rot out an entire bushel in minutes.
As I watched the activists and politicians pontificating about your decision to close that store, I didn’t hear any of them say anything they haven’t said before. Especially when they threatened to host a boycott. I can tell their threats did little to change your decision. I can say what you were probably thinking: The only successful boycott they’ve ever done was boycotting the boycott!
I feel for the people who lost that store because they truly needed it. So I would like to offer a suggestion. Why don’t you reopen the store as the first Walmart co-op for troubled urban areas? You would maintain 51% ownership while the community would have 49%. The co-op would be similar to a Sam’s Club in that it would be membership only. Any person 10 or over must have their own individual membership.
There would be no free membership because we need to have folks buy into the concept. And let’s say the membership is $10 for two years, joinable through the Walmart website. If, at a minimum, a half-million people joined, that would be a $5 million commitment from the community going toward reopening the store. And as the membership expired, there’s $5 million more going into the bucket to cover whatever cost.
A Walmart co-op could be a unifying force between the community and employees. No one can turn a blind eye toward theft because it affects everyone who is part of the co-op. You would have a constituency of people committed to the store’s success and thus not tolerating thieves.
Because it would be a co-op, shelf space could be given to small Black businesses just starting out that have a hard time getting their product to market. And why not subdivide out ownership of certain areas of the stores to different entities? Meat market, fruits and vegetables, bakery, hardware, clothing, shoes, sporting goods, bicycles, etc. would be under the co-op umbrella but have individual owners responsible specifically for those areas.
Walmart, the positive publicity from such a successful Urban Walmart co-op would be worth its weight in gold.