Monday, January 3, 2011

DC advises Gray in WAPO

Say no to Wal-Mart.

In November, Wal-Mart announced plans to open four stores in Washington by 2012. This is not what our city needs.

As an independent small-business owner, I am concerned about the District's "big box" approach to economic development. This strategy - plant national chains in gentrifying areas, some of which are still recovering from 1968's riots - is unsustainable and unwise. It's economic crack.

You should take the long view and strive to attract small businesses with tax incentives that level the playing field for those battling the big-box bullies. Small businesses give our neighborhoods - whether Mount Pleasant, Shaw or H Street - their unique character. (Remember when Chinatown had something more Chinese than Fuddruckers?)

Small businesses create more local jobs, pay more taxes, keep more money in the community and are far less likely to close down when things get tough. And, if they go bust, they don't leave an economic crater behind.

Learn from the mistakes of your predecessor. Instead of hopping a flight across the country to entice Fortune 500 companies, support independent local businesses by taking walks in our neighborhoods, dining at local restaurants and shopping at local shoe stores. It will be money well spent.

- Andy Shallal, owner, Busboys and Poets and Eatonville restaurant

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