Super Wal-Mart in Huntingdon

My Wal-Mart post has received some considerable attention. Especially from those concerned about business growth in Huntingdon, PA. I was going to craft a comment response in my previous post, but I thought this deserved a new thread…

Well, Huntingdon is an interesting situation. The manufacturing jobs are all but dried up there. The only real “good” jobs are at the college. Unfortunately, the college is what has been keeping the town alive for so long. Otherwise, Huntingdon probably would’ve dried up in the early 90’s.

On the other hand… the little shops in Huntingdon are mostly junk. That place that is diagonal from the OIP is an eyesore and a sign of poor economic and cultural stability. If folks from Raystown want to take a half day trip into Huntingdon to get away from the Lake, they aren’t going to find much in the ways of window shopping or cultural enlightenment.

Wal-Mart, in Huntingdon, is a Catch-22 in my eyes. As far as I can tell, Huntingdon is doomed in the long run unless a real manufacturing company comes in a sets up an operation. The fiberglass plant is in bad shape. Huntingdon needs a blue-collar shot in the arm from industry, not retail. The HCBi is desperately trying to attract business, but in this case, it’s the wrong business. Wal-Mart is a short term fix. Economic impact studies have got to show that Wal-Mart would turn the Huntingdon “business district” into a ghost town.

On the consumer side, Huntingdon, once again, is poor. John Q. Welfare can’t afford to drive to Altoona or State College all the time to get fair market prices for goods. Heck, even finding a selection of items or even specific items requires a trip of at least a half hour. That being said, Wal-Mart would be very convienent for Huntingdon inhabitants. People could get what they wanted without having to spend $20 in gas to get there and have an hour stolen from their life. This is fantastic for the poor community in Huntingdon in terms of cheap goods.

Wal-Mart would certainly employ many of the welfare-bound citizens in Huntingdon. This would be great for them to finally have a job. However, we come back to fair wages and benefits practices as a focus. Wal-Mart doesn’t offer fair anything. Workers will get paid $6.75 an hour and still qualify for food stamps. They will still need government assistance for health care for children and spouses. There is a no win situation for workers in that market.

As for local businesses being shut down… frankly, some of them need to go away anyway. However, we will most likely have to say goodbye to the two or three icons of Huntingdon ‘cool.’ Mary’s Bargains won’t last more than 2 years after a Wal-Mart opening. Same goes for Mark’s Corner Store. The big loser in this venture will be the giant department store, Miller’s. I don’t see Miller’s lasting anymore than a year upong Wal-Mart’s opening. Fortunately, it may boost the restaurant industry in Huntingdon thanks to the visitors coming in from the surrounding areas.

If I lived in Huntingdon and had the means, I would be ordering all my ‘specialty’ goods from the internet. We live in Pittsburgh and we still do that. We don’t go shopping for bath towels. We order them from LL Bean. We don’t go to Best Buy to buy electronics. We order them. Prices on items and delivery have come down so far in the past 3 years that anything you can’t get in Huntingdon can be picked up on the internet. You’re gonna pay a little more to have it delivered to your door, but does it cost more than driving to State College or Altoona? Unfortunately, this only helps the problem among those with the money, means, and knowledge to order items from the internet.

In conclusion, I see Wal-Mart as a short term fix for Huntingdon. As I said, those with the means, need to find better ways of getting specialty items that aren’t available in Huntingdon. Mail/Internet ordering seems to be the way to do that. But everyone needs to support Huntingdon businesses when possible. Shop at Weis, not the Super Wal-Mart. Get your gas at Sheetz, not the Super Wal-Mart. Huntingdon needs to have a real blue-collar manufacturing plant come in to provide fair paying jobs. Until that happens, Huntingdon will continue to wither.

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19 Responses to Super Wal-Mart in Huntingdon

  1. knomat says:

    Many people are saying that Wal-Mart is good for Huntingdon because of what you suggested – people won’t have to pack up and head to Altoona or State College to go shopping. I wouldn’t be surprised to see and Applebee’s or TGI Friday’s or something of the like pop up beside Wal-Mart before too long. The benefit of having Wal-Mart here, in some people’s opinion, is that it will keep people here. They will go to Wal-Mart and then head downtown for some pizza and and ice cream cone. That might be high hopes, but it’s the hope that a lot of small business owners are holding on to. They hope that more people will stick around and window shop downtown.

    You’re right, one of the highest employers of this town is the college … next in line to the prison I believe. But, unless you’ve got a degree of some sort, you’ll be cleaning bathrooms and collecting the garbage. Wal-Mart might be a short-term fix – but, like you said, it doesn’t create the jobs that need to be created for this area.

    On the upside, Juniata has started what seems to be a good thing with JCEL – the Juniata Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership. The only problem I see with that is that they might be focusing on student businesses too much. Don’t get me wrong, I think student businesses are fine … but students are only here in the short term. The low-scale businesses they’re starting (i.e. a gift basket maker selling themed baskets to student families) aren’t going to create jobs for the people in this community. They have started a partnership with the Huntingdon Chamber of Commerce and they’re taking steps toward focusing on startups for the community. This is what Huntingdon needs. They need to focus on helping a business startup that is going to benefit the community, not just a student that targets to college community. It’s an uphill struggle, but progress is being made.

  2. Michelle says:

    Hi Dave,

    It isn’t very popular or trendy to say this, but I am still looking forward to having a Wal-Mart in Huntingdon.

    I bored Bridget to tears on Friday with my reasoning. I’ll give you a call sometime and we can chat.



  3. Jerky says:

    Coming from an Altoonian whose wife works in Huntingdon…

    Opening a Wal-Mart is a Catch-22 in every situation. They have unfair labor practices, but their low prices are the exact thing that the economic level of Wal-Mart employees can afford. It pisses me off that public money is going to support a company as large as Wal-Mart (the same way it pisses me off that public money was used to build 2 new stadiums in Pittsburgh). However, Huntingdon is dying. Since we moved to Blair county 5 years ago, I can count the number of times I’ve had a reason or desire to go to Huntingdon on one hand, and at least half of those times were work related. From what my wife says, all of her patients are excited about the Wal-Mart because they have to drive 1/2 hour to Altoona just to get groceries. I think that Huntingdon is missing a large oppurtunity to gain a lot of tourists’ dollars due to the proximity of Raystown & the fact that there is nothing else around.

    I realize I’m rambling, but as much as I hate to see a Wal-Mart go up, Huntingdon needs some type of business infusion. Preferrably it would be a manufacturing one as opposed to retail, but I guess they have to start somewhere (how many businesses will want to relocate to Huntingdon knowing that the employees would have to drive at least 1/2 hour to get basic items?)

    I try my best to stay out of Wal-Mart, the employees are generally rude, you have to wait a minimum of 10 minutes to check-out, and parking is a mess. However, there have been times when I really need the conveiance (sp?) and Target just doesn’t have what I’m looking for and therefore end up at Wal-Mart.

  4. bridget says:

    Michelle did not bore me – indeed she and Simon and several others have valid points for Wal-Mart to come to Huntingdon. That’s where this discussion has gone, but not where my frustration started.

    My point in all of this is simple: I want to give people my money for the goods or services they provide. Those people in turn should be at the very least polite, if not friendly and helpful. Rudeness is not acceptable, and I won’t give anyone who behaved that way a second chance to be rude to me when I don’t have to. I agree that walking away without the goods and without paying would have made the biggest statement. That is why I mentioned the tired/hungry-ness. I wasn’t more upset at the situation because of that; I gave in because of it. If I had been at my best, I would have told them to shove their 10% and walked away.

    The reason I say boycott the whole company because of one clerk is that it isn’t just one clerk. When you have a giant company like Wal-Mart, they spend lots of money training their employees. I’d prefer to patronize a company who actually does a good job of this. While I prefer Target, for this reason and many others, it is still corporate America. It think it is a better company than Wal-Mart, but it is still corporate America – and all those things Simon talked about.

    People who think Wal-Mart is the answer to Huntingdon’s problems or the cause of its future doom are being naive and short sighted. Wal-Mart is just one part of a much larger dynamic. It will have positive and negative effects. We can argue those effects, and we can base our shopping around what points we feel most strongly about.

    For me, I will choose to shop at a clean, bright store, with a selection I enjoy, and helpful polite employees, even if it means going out of my way (which it indeed does). I will choose similarly for restaurants, other retail venues, and all kinds of goods and services. This is how we will send our message (whatever message each of us has) – through the cash we spend and where we choose to spend it.

  5. JOHN DOE says:


  6. Jen says:

    I realize this is an old website, but I still wanted to add my thoughts.

    Walmart is great for Huntingdon!! While I’m not a big fan, it’s almost impossible to get what you need in this town without it. Need a needle and thread? Head to Altoona or State College. Want to buy a new video game? Head to Altoona or State College.

    I disagree with whoever wrote the original article here. Some stores are definitely going to suffer, but I highly doubt Walmart will effect Mary’s Bargains in the least. They deal with video games, movies, and audio CDs for the most part. Walmart is the last store in Altoona and State College to lower the price of any video game. I know many say they get great prices at Walmart, but I’d LOVE to know what everyone is buying because I really don’t see their pricing as all that great. I will say however that it will be nice not to have to run so far for every single item you need.

    Giant’s sales are better than Walmart’s prices and Walmart injects dyes into their meats. Who the heck wants that? Peebles is expensive, but Walmart could keep those who’d otherwise head off to Altoona or State to shop right here in Huntingdon, so they may actually buy more from these types of stores. I don’t see Peebles as being anymore expensive than Kaufmann’s and I buy plenty there.

    Western Auto will be closed very shortly after Walmart comes in though. Who besides me is tired of forking over $40 for a printer cartridge? IMO, they should go out of business. They make NO attempt at competitive pricing whatsoever. They’ve ripped the people of the town off long enough, IMO. Good riddens!

  7. Matt says:

    Personally, I’m in favor (and looking very forward) to the Wal-Mart in Huntingdon. As a a college student, it is almost impossible to get anything useful in town, without driving to Lewistown or State College. The town needs to realize that you simply cannot run businesses from 9am to 3pm, and not even open at all on Sundays. This town needs to be innovative. For that to occur, business need to adapt or die off.

  8. Nathan Ott says:

    I think Wal-mart is the best thing to happen to Huntingdon. Who wants to live in a town that doesn’t have a Wal-mart?

  9. AxsDeny says:

    The best thing to happen to Huntingdon is Juniata College. The answer to your question: me.

  10. alice bum says:

    the entrance floors are terrible, i think they dug the rock out back in the field to make the floor.

  11. LUEELUII says:

    Wal-Mart isn’t the best thing to come around, but its not always the worst either. Sorry for anyone who has to work there, for sure, the manager is a charismatic a-hole (yeah, such a thing exists), the wages are low, and the hours just suck, and workers are treated like crap by management and customers alike.
    However, Wal-Mart doesn’t pillage and plunder every town it goes into. Take Bedford County for example – the WalMart plaza filled up, downtown filled up, Mile Level has filled out and grown… and keeps growing. Huntingdon is now where Bedford WAS when WM came in. Yes, it kills off the weak, but you need to find the niche that WM doesnt have – like service, decent clothes, decent shoes, etc… and thats what Bedford has done. We too could use some good blue-collar work, but that is soming too, albeit slowly. Hang in there!

  12. tracy says:

    i love to shop walmart and i think i’m glade those people did a great job of bring it in huntingdon county.

  13. AxsDeny says:

    Your lack of coherent sentences nullifies any argument that you make.

  14. Mary says:

    I feel the community of Huntingdon thrives on the people that have money, never giving true chances to those who are much more experienced in just common respect of things needed in this town. Otherwise making it impossible for the people with the artistic ablity and working with the communities opinions, taking their knowlegde to create interests. It’s funny how rich take the knowlegde of their employees and say look what I did, while the one who really does it, gets nothing. Huntingdon yes, has done good things but how many people do we have in this town? You never see or hear about because they might truely get the real credit they deserve. Don’t feed knowledge to those with the bucks, because they use and take, while peolpe think they are great..

  15. Tim says:

    The college is what’s keeping huntingdon together? Um havent you noticed the two prison’s that employ more than the college and pay alot better. Not to mention the biggest dam lake in Pa bringing the weekend warriors to the lake all summer long. Yes wal-mart has knocked out several ma and pa’s shops but is that a part of business?

  16. Bobby says:

    I think walmart is a joke. As an ex-employee with not hard-feelings i believe it really is a joke. They pay well, they provide us with jobs, and honestly who doesnt end up there at least once a month. Its a time saver from going to altoona, state college, or lewistown. But when it comes down to it……. The place is hell lol. They provide absolutely no chance to move up in the company unless its in a store level position in which case. The only way to” move up” is to literally “move down” as long as your a female. If you get my drift. Its disgusting.

  17. Richard says:

    4 years later and still getting comments on this one. Amazing!! You must have struck a nerve.

  18. Christopher says:

    I worked at the Huntingdon Wal-Mart for a year before developing Renal failure and having to go on disability. The original article says that Wal-Mart will pay lousy wages around $6.75 an hour. Well, I made $8.25 an hour and got a raise every Quarter. You can’t BEAT that anywhere in Huntingdon County. Before that I worked at one of those so-called Mom and Pop stores, I was paid $5.75 to start, and after a YEAR I got a NICKEL raise… and a year later, when I left, I was STILL making $5.80. I’d rather work for Wal-Mart any damn day

    Oh yeah… and I was also eligible for Health benefits 6 months into my employment.

    And btw, Mary’s Bargains is still open six years on… Because they sell things that W-M doesn’t.

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