Friday, February 13, 2004

Wal-Mart Plans New South Side Location

Last week, Wal-Mart executives and City of Pittsburgh officials announced plans for a 200,000 square-foot 24-hour Wal-Mart Super Center to be built along East Carson Street in Pittsburgh’s South Side. The Wal-Mart will reportedly take up blocks between 13th and 18th Streets with construction slated to begin in the fall of this year.

"This is a very exciting time for Wal-Mart and the South Side," began Wal-Mart spokeswoman Margaret Keene. "Although the neighborhood will be losing most of the small ‘mom and pop’ stores that gave the area its flavor and variety for decades, it is gaining the largest, most powerful retailer on the planet. And we believe that’s just what the South Side needs."

In order to make room for the massive store, the Bentonville, Arkansas company purchased many of the proposed site’s homes and businesses from the previous owners.

“It’s just a drop in the bucket for Wal-Mart,” explained Keene. “With what we’ve given them, they’ll do just fine.”

Bobby Pessolano, owner of Mario’s South Side Saloon is just one of the owners who took Wal-Mart up on their offer.

“With the money I made from Wal-Mart’s deal, I’m moving Mario’s to Shadyside,” explained Pessolano. “The average Mario’s customer should fit in perfect there. If not, I’ll be ruined.”

One local business, as Keene explains, is not moving. “We are proud to announce that the new South Side Wal-Mart will feature the Carson Street Deli inside.”

However, other local businesses fear Wal-Mart’s impact on the local economy.

“Well sure, with Wal-Mart’s prices being anywhere from 50-60% lower than the local independent retailers in the area, we expect around 85% of those directly competing with Wal-Mart to be out of business in three to four months,” admitted Keene. “But we sure can’t wait to welcome those shops former customers to Wal-Mart with a hearty ‘hello!’”

Other businesses are expected to thrive, though.

“Look at the Beehive," added Keene. “We expect Wal-Mart to bring in people from all over the area to the South Side. I’m sure the Beehive’s current customers can’t wait until they’re sipping coffee next to a Wal-Mart customer!”

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