Addition of on-campus Wal-Mart displeases community


Banners hang from the columns on Francis Quadrangle. Photo by Asa Lory

George Sarafianos

In the month of July, Wal-Mart announced it would be partnering with Columbia Realtor Travis Mcgee, owner of The Lofts at 308 9th St. to launch an on-campus Walmart at The University of Missouri- Columbia. Being the fourth university since 2011 to add a Wal-Mart on campus along with The Universities of Arkansas, Arizona State and Georgia Tech; Mizzou’s campus Wal-Mart schedules to open early next year and be 2500 by 5000 square feet.

When this news wandered  into the public eye it is almost unimaginable that it was met with enthusiasm by members of the community. Wal-Mart has been protested and publicly for the past several years, or at least it feels like.

In fact, the curriculum of ninth grade Government/ Economics at West Jr. High School at one point mandated the viewing of  a documentary focusing on Wal-Mart’s vices called: ‘Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Prices’, along with that, the constant ‘Boycott Wal-Mart’ groups crowding social networking sites both prove the distaste for Walmart evident among community members.  It seems that large businesses, Wal-Mart in particular, have become an enemy of everyone. But in this case it is hard to see a negative outcome of adding one on campus. It would create jobs and increase cash flow, not to mention what a convenience it would be to students living on campus who don’t have the option of driving to the grocery store.

Making Columbia as great as it can be should be important. And this Wal-Mart will not do anything but help with that. But there are also ways in which people are attempting to change Columbia, that are not nearly as effective or helpful as simply opening up a mini mart on the bottom floor of an apartment complex.

Earlier this year, in the month of March, the collective practice/ performance venue formerly known as “The Hair Hole” played its last shows, before being shut down in order to make room for Brookside Apartment developers Jon and Nathan Odle’s new project:a five story apartment complex with a restaurant and offices. In a Columbia Tribune article by Jacob Barker regarding the occurrence, local engineer (and originator of the project that got rid of The Hair Hole) Mark Timberlake said, “I grew up here, and downtown was really thriving until malls took over the world.” The article went on to refer to The Hair Hole as “nondescript,” Which means: “lacking distinctive or interesting features or characteristics.” Timberlake also said in the story that he plans to “make an artistic statement with the building” yet earlier on said the building would be marketed toward “professionals and retirees.”

As it was said towards  the beginning, endeavors that do the community good should be encouraged; however, the addition of yet another expensive, upscale project led by the Odle brothers is not something that would do much good at all. With establishments such as The Hair Hole in a community, we get diversity, creativity, productivity and comradery; with a five-story office/ apartment complex, we get more of what is already there, in abundance might I add. Not to mention that even though all of these new fancy apartments are supposed to lure people in. What the people making these buildings do not realize is that they are luring in only those who can afford it, which is becoming fewer and fewer each day considering the fact that the popping up of more and more fancy apartments will only make it more expensive to live downtown.

This whole situation is kind of foolish to be honest, so many people are trying to better the community by creating upscale buildings, but they counter this by getting rid of the places that actually make Columbia unique and enjoyable in the first place.The Hair Hole was an outlet for creating music, something  with proof of  countless psychological benefits. The building going in its place  is meant for business men and retired people…it’s pretty hard to see how that helps the entire community, considering the abundance of offices and apartments and the rarity of DIY music venues such as The Hair Hole.

Bottom line, if people like something, they’re going to keep doing it, be it creating large, unneeded buildings, or playing music. What needs to be done is simply working on not negatively affecting other people while you’re doing what you enjoy. It’s a fairly basic concept, but one that seems to be nearly impossible to grasp.
By George Sarafianos