Most of us love our Country Mart and many of us frequent other small retailers in Butler and the surrounding communities. Does the new Supercenter with its grocery market mark the end of our beloved County Mart, I hope not.
While some bemoan the coming of the behemoth supercenter, others welcome it as a sign of progress. Looking at other nearby communities where similar events have transpired we often see a short term vacancy problem with the large big box stores that were there before, it is easy to point to those and say what will happen to our town with all this vacant property.
The truth is that often in a few short years growth continues and those old mothballed retail centers find a new use. The current Family Center in Butler sat vacant for some time before it became the vital resource it is now. In towns like Raytown, Mo the former Walmart is now being considered as a spot for a new Sutherlands Lumber store. As many of you know the new Sutherlands in Harrisonville is a wonderful shopping experience and a great asset to the community. When the old Walmart in Raytown closed, so did the neighboring Hy-Vee not to pack up and leave, but to move to a new bigger, better facility close to the newly constructed Walmart Supercenter in Raytown.
Many years ago Belton, Mo also lost a Walmart store, the new Walmart was bigger and better and over the years the old location was transformed into another useful and productive business for the community of Belton, MO.
I have worked for many years with commercial real estate, while most folks tend to think in terms of next month large commercial deals are more on the scale of the next several years. While the old Walmart building in Butler may face vacancy for some time, the fact is that it is a ripe opportunity for the right investor to develop it for future growth. With the coming of the new Interstate 49 and the passing away of MO Highway 71 many things will change in Bates County, it won't take weeks or even months; it will take years or even generations.
The new Butler Walmart Supercenter will bring new jobs and perhaps cause the short-term loss of some of the things we love about our community, but in the long run Butler and Bates County will thrive and be better and stronger for it. Don's Tire will survive and thrive on the service model they have lived by for ages, others will find a niche and fill a need and it will all come out for the better.
Competition is good, many good things come of it. Our country was founded on the principles of hard work and self reliance, the folks of Bates County will absorb this growth and be blessed by it. The winds of change are blowing and change can be good, or not so good it is all up to you and how you receive it.
God bless and have a wonderful 2011!