At last!


Finally, a Wal—Mart store within barely reasonable driving driving distance of Berkeley. Until now, every time the Arkansas giant tried to open a store anywhere nearby, a cartel of local stores, fortified by union activists peeved at Wal—Mart's non—union stance, and lefties angry at anything successful in capitalism, especially if it is patronized by lower income folks who ought to be voting socialist, has successfully killed the plan.

Wal—Mart are a smart bunch, though. They have picked the perfect site. The Hilltop Mall in Richmond, California is a pretty ordinary shopping mall, located in a very suburban area which happens to be within the municipal boundaries of a city which is predominantly black and very, very troubled with crime. Brought there by bus lines converging on the mall, many of those euphemistically called "urban youth" choose to hang out in the courtyard, where they scare away many shoppers of all races, with their boistrous (shall we call it) behavior.

Accordingly, the Macy's department store closed several years ago, while Sears and Penny's remain uncrowded places. The Richmond mall does have a terrific selection of shoe stores selling Nikes and other expensive brands of track shoes, and finding a store selling CDs is never a problem either. All the junk food you could ever want is right there.

I long ago started driving extra miles out to Walnut Creek for my department store needs, even though parking is harder, too. The customer base is much more affluent, and the selection of goods is better. People are well—dressed and very well—behaved.

Nobody is going to chase Wal—Mart out of the Richmond Mall. Cities in California get a share of the sales tax, and the city is desperate for money. The store already exists, so there will be fewer permits to be issued.

In the immediate area of the Richmond mall are many thriving stores and restaurants. It is just the kids in the courtyard that scare shoppers. There are plenty of ready sutomers nearby, fed there by Interstate 80, and 8—lane very busy artery.

Wal—Mart has the best prices on DVDs, and is always extremely competitive on many other items. I look forward to regaining my familiarity with the Hilltop Mall.