When faced with controversial retail development, Lakeview residents sure are creative in their opposition. Just last week, Athenaeum Theatre in Wrigleyville showcased the play “I Am Montana,” an unflattering look at the plight of “Valumart” employees. Images of a disfigured Walmart logo pepper storefronts all over Boystown. And now, opponents to the big-box store are hosting a documentary screening and anti-Walmart Q&A on Wednesday.
The Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce and locals opposed to a Walmart in Lakeview are promoting a free screening of the documentary “Walmart: The High Cost of Low Price” at the Landmark Century Cinema, a block away from the proposed Walmart site at Broadway and Surf Street.
The 2005 documentary tells stories of how Walmart has negatively affected small towns and surrounding businesses, how its employees struggle with low wages and perhaps most heatedly, showing how one community united and fought to keep a Walmart from moving in.
After he first saw the film, Bruce Alan Beal, local activist and creator of the “Stop the Lakeview/Lincoln Park Walmart” Facebook group, said he was reminded of how a new Walmart affected his hometown outside Indianapolis. He also said the doc raises questions about Walmart’s environmental impact. He hopes Lakeview’s own David-and-Goliath story will act as a model for other ‘hoods vetting or opposing Walmarts in Chicago.
“There are people looking to Lakeview as an example of how a community reasonably acts when there’s opposition to an unreasonable retailer,” he said. “We’ve become a ground zero for resistance to Walmart in the city of Chicago.”
Beal said he’s also glad there will be a Q&A for residents after the screening and hopes the film educates local residents and business owners who aren’t familiar with the Arkansas-based company. He has been heavily promoting the film with his Facebook group’s 889 members.
“Honestly even for the communities that do want a Walmart, it should be a conversation between them, Walmart and their alderman,” Beal said. “And my hope in Lakeview is that we are able to set that example.”
“Walmart: The High Cost of Low Price”
2828 N. Clark St.
May 4th, 7:30 p.m.
Q&A follows the film.