Will the man who took on Big Tobacco and who now has a class action lawsuit against HMOs next take on Wal-Mart on behalf of the small, mom-and-pop retailers of America?
Pascagoula attorney Richard Scruggs has been quoted in press reports as saying he is considering a class action lawsuit against Wal-Mart.
But while much has been said about the impact of the “Wal-marting of America” on locally-owned and operated small businesses, less has been said about the large number of vacant stores across the country that remain vacant after Wal-Marts grow into SuperCenters.
Wal-Mart has vacant stores in nearly every major city in Mississippi. Some have been vacant for only a short time, and others remain empty much longer.
The Web site for Wal-Mart says: “You know us as a retailer. We are also a Real Estate Company. We sometimes outgrow the buildings that house our retail stores and, when we do, we look for ways to utilize our real estate to benefit other end users, Wal-Mart, and the surrounding community.
“Wal-Mart Realty Company is uniquely qualified to provide a complete real estate service to your company. We have existing buildings located throughout the United States. Furthermore, we have the capability of providing demographic information on our locations and can close your deal in a timely manner. Not only can we offer you guidance in the selection and acquisition of your site, we also have architects, engineers, and tenant construction managers who are capable of moving a project from the ground breaking to grand opening. You will find that our buildings are extremely versatile and can be converted to fulfill almost any business need. In addition, these locations offer plenty of parking in a prime location.
Daphne Davis, community affairs manager for Wal-Mart, said that despite the costs of having vacant stores around the country, there are obvious advantages to moving into the bigger stores.
She said that is why there is a Wal-Mart Realty Company, and a Web site to promote the sale or lease of the vacant buildings.”
According to the Wal-Mart Web site, properties available in Mississippi that are either leased or owned by Wal-Mart include the following:
• Clinton, 107 Highway 80 East, 95,478 square feet;
• Columbus, 1721 Highway 45 North, 103,036 square feet;
• Greenville, 1746 Highway 1 South, 111,513 square feet;
• Hattiesburg, 4600 Hardy St., 37,050 square feet;
• Jackson, 1775 Ellis Ave., 74,061 square feet; and 590 Raymond Road, 106,278 square feet;
• Laurel, 2260 Highway 15 North, 103,565 square feet;
• Magee, Highway 49 North Bypass, 50,968 square feet;
• Meridian, 715 Bonita Drive, 86,850 square feet;
• Natchez, 261 Devereaux, Drive, 78,622 square feet;
• Ocean Springs, 3051 Bienville Blvd., 90,899 square feet;
• Pearl, U.S. 80 & Crosspark Dr., 28,119 square feet;
• Petal, 501 New Richton Road, 40,000 square feet;
• Picayune, 781 Highway 43 South, 52,412 square feet;
• Southaven, 385 State Line Road West, 125,457 square feet;
• Starkville, 782 Highway 12 West, 95,861 square feet;
• Tupelo, 1708 South Glouster, 82,820 square feet.
Davis said that properties are available because retail is “a very organic process. We are opening 165 superstores this year. There will be some properties that become available as a result.”
Wal-Mart didn’t have any information available on possible tenants for the vacant stores in Mississippi.