By Taxpayers Association of Oregon
Walmart has announced that it is closing its two last remaining stores in Portland, costing nearly 600 jobs. This follows a closure of other individual stores like BJ’s, Stanford’s, Starbucks, Fred Meyers and Cracker Barrel –often over crime crime as well. NIKE closed one of the main stores over crime as it experienced nearly a daily shoplifting problem and sought to hire off-duty Portland police but none were available due to the police shortage.
Portland politicians have long opposed Walmart. More than a decade ago, then Portland City Councilor Sam Adams hanged an anti-Walmart flag from his office, while another City Commissioner Steve Novick, wanted one as well. Portland was the first City to ban Walmart from government financial investments. At the time of the passage, a Portland Commissioner said Walmart was just the beginning as “You have to start somewhere … General Electric is a poster child for tax evasion. Coca-Cola is practically in the business of increasing the incidence of diabetes.” At the time, Portland tried to block Walmart from setting up new stores in the city.
Walmart provided lower income Portlanders access to affordable prices that other retailers didn’t, was cheered for donating five million pounds of food to the Oregon Food Bank in a single year, built Portland’s largest eco-roof, and donated extensively to homeless shelters (something Portland desperately needs) It wasn’t enough to withstand the business bashing and Portland crime wave.
In 2018, Portland approved a big 1% tax on national retailers while in 2019 Oregon passed one of the nation’s only gross-receipts tax (Corporate Activities tax) which hit businesses on revenue (instead of profits).
The sad fact is that because Walmart is willing to set-up stores in low income neighborhoods (where crime is disproportionately higher), their stores suffer from a higher shoplifting rate than other retail stores. They can endure this disadvantage factor as long as crime doesn’t escalate and the store is allowed to generate healthy revenue. Well, Walmart said crime at their stores hit record levels and then the politicians slammed them with high taxes because they view larger businesses as an endless supply of tax cash grabs and not a business where a typical grocery store only nets 1-3% small profit margins.
The liberal politicians got what they wanted, and now nearly 600 jobs are lost and low income Portlanders will have to travel farther and pay more for everyday goods. Welcome to liberal utopia = fewer choices, more poverty, more crime, higher prices.
Bonus: Below is a note from a recently closed Portland business, RainsPDX, that made national news. It represents what businesses have to face in this Portland crime wave.