Tags: 15 | 000 | Applied | 'Unwanted' | Chicago | Wal-Mart

15,000 Applied at 'Unwanted' Chicago Wal-Mart

Wednesday, 27 September 2006 12:00 AM

CHICAGO -- Self-professed "shopaholic" Julie Edwards arrived at Chicago's first Wal-Mart store two hours before its grand opening Wednesday - and she wasn't alone.

Lines snaked around the mega-retailer's West Side building long before it opened, filled with residents excited to welcome the store, its bargains and its jobs to the area.

"I love this store," Edwards said. "It's about time we get nice stores in this neighborhood."

Bringing Wal-Mart to Chicago was a four-year journey that pitted unions and small business owners against politicians and activists eager to bring jobs to the city's economically depressed West Side.

More than 15,000 people applied for the 400 jobs at the new store, where an estimated 98 percent of workers live in the neighborhood, said store manager Ed Smith.

The store's opening comes two weeks to the day after aldermen failed to override Chicago Mayor Richard Daley's veto of the city's so-called "big-box ordinance."

The measure would have required large stores like Wal-Mart to pay workers at least $10 an hour - plus $3 in fringe benefits - by mid-2010. The rules would have applied only to companies with more than $1 billion in annual sales and stores of at least 90,000 square feet.

At the time, Wal-Mart officials cheered the measure's defeat, saying the aldermen who voted against it were supporting "valuable job opportunities and increased savings for the working families of Chicago."

On Wednesday, Smith said the lowest paid person at the store makes $7.25 an hour, and only two workers make that.

Daley and other opponents of the ordinance said it would have jeopardized the city's ability to draw and keep large retailers.

Residents like Edwards echoed the sentiments of many Wal-Mart supporters who said a job that pays minimum wage is better than no job at all.

"I want to see them make $10 an hour, but if they can't, at least they can make something," Edwards said. "They're creating jobs for our community."

A 7 a.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony resembled something between a revival - with the crowd shouting "Amen!" - and a pep rally, with a performance by a high school marching band.

After the doors opened, shoppers poured into the 142,000-square-foot store to shop for a variety of items, including cosmetics, music, music videos and food aimed toward black and Hispanic consumers.

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CHICAGO -- Self-professed "shopaholic" Julie Edwards arrived at Chicago's first Wal-Mart store two hours before its grand opening Wednesday - and she wasn't alone. Lines snaked around the mega-retailer's West Side building long before it opened, filled with residents...
15,000,Applied,'Unwanted',Chicago,Wal-Mart
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2006-00-27
Wednesday, 27 September 2006 12:00 AM
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