Today there was a story in the Grand Forks Herald concerning the new Walmart planned to go on the North End of Grand Forks. We heard that Walmart had bought land and was building a supercenter a couple months ago. My impression then which is unchanged is that Home of Economy in Grand Forks will be stronger because more people will be on the north end of Grand Forks. Tonight as I was going to bed I checked the GF Herald's web site and saw that a number of well meaning but mostly mistaken people have commented about us in the comment section of the Herald's story on Walmart.

I felt I had to correct a few misplaced perceptions about how we compete with Walmart. First of all we've never had so much competition and Home of Economy has never been stronger. Certainly we've had to change with the times and the oil business out west has helped us a lot but we believe that competition makes us better. We compete with Walmart in five of our six stores and when they've built close to us we've benefited by their traffic. One person has commented that we have a "high" price structure. In the areas that we are strong in we are very price competitive. Certainly we aren't always cheaper than the discounters loss leaders, but then again, they aren't always as cheap as we are on our special deals. Walmart may have a great deal on bathroom tissue, but there are times when we're able to offer a deal just as good as what they do.

There were some comments about our customer service not being as good as they'd like. And I have to admit that I know we can do better. We're always striving to improve what we can do. However I sometimes think that we're held up to a higher standard than other stores. I go into our competitors and generally I can't find anybody. On the other hand there are times when I do find someone in another store that does a great job. I think we're more consistent in giving good service than our competitors. Of course we always need to do better when it comes to customer service. It's a rare thing for us to lose a Team Member to one of our competitors. Our full-time hours, great benefits and family atmosphere are hard to beat in the retail job market. While we don't like to lose good people we do understand that people are going to leave the retail industry for what may be a better fit for the people moving on.

One of the comments said that they hoped that we would be doing some expansion. We've done some in the last few years. We've opened up in Jamestown, moved to a bigger location in Grafton. Right now we're working on a huge upgrade for the Minot market. We're also just in the preliminary stages of looking at an expansion in Williston. I appreciate the concern expressed on the Herald's web site. But we're doing well and getting better.