The 10 year expensive battle is over. Walmart is coming to Stratford, Ontario. Not in its' desired location or original size but none the less ground will be broken in 2012 to pave the way for the mega box store to put down roots in the Stratford community.
The city has spent $1.4 million dollars on legal fees alone in their fight to keep the retail giant at bay with their efforts to preserve the downtown retail businesses. Many downtown merchants are concerned that Walmart's arrival will put additional stress on businesses already facing challenges.
The new location, still in the City's east end is a smaller parcel of land, meaning the size of the department store will shrink from the desired 135,000 square feet to 90,000 square feet.
Big box stores versus local merchants is a common battle faced by most communities. While it is sad to see some mom and pop businesses suffer, many do survive and thrive as they cater to a different type of clientele.
There is no denying that these large anchor stores bring jobs and keep dollars in the community. Here in Stratford, you must travel a half hour away to Kitchener or Woodstock, Ontario to find a Walmart or Home Depot.
Walmart's biggest competition in Stratford is Zellers, a chain stores that have recently been bought out by Target. If the existing Zellers store eventually converts to a Target, it will be interesting to see the two big American giants go head to head vying for their share of business from Stratford's 32,000 residents.
Will Home Depot and Chapters be far behind?