Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Muslim Walmart in Dearborn

Walmart is set to open tomorrow a new, one of its kind, Supercenter in Dearborn, Michigan.

The store will carry over 500 items that will cater to the Dearborn Muslim shopper.

The range of products from the Middle East and other areas includes a large variety of olives, halal meats, Lebanese spices, Greek olive oil, date-filled cookies from Saudi Arabia, chewing gum from Jordan, Turkish candies, frozen okra, Lebanese-style yogurt and Bulgarian feta cheese.

Most items are supplied by Tut's International Export & Import Co. in Dearborn. John Shenouda, vice president at Tut's, helped Wal-Mart determine which products to stock at the store. Wal-Mart also obtains goods from other local vendors such as the New Yasmeen Bakery in Dearborn.

The store will also have the same amount of shelf space for items which appeal to the Mexican shopper.

Signs in the store will be in three languages, Arabic, Spanish and English while employees will wear nametags which inform shoppers that a particular clerk speaks other languages than English.

According to the Dearborn Free Press, the 2000 United States Census found that 30% of the total population of Dearborn are Muslim, with 115, 284 Arab Americans residing in the state of Michigan.

Local merchants are not thrilled with the new superstore, worried that Walmart's pricing will hurt the littler shop owners in the area. The chairman of the Arab American Chamber of Commerce in Dearborn commented on the new Walmart and its impact on the local merchants:

"They have been trying to gear the store up to attract shoppers from our community," Beydoun said. "Our community has been traders and merchants for thousands of years. So Wal-Mart's entry will make an impact, but it won't be disastrous."

The store will also sell Mexican music and videos, Middle Eastern music and greeting cards, and developing a line of Islamic cards.

Just recently Walmart apologized to a Muslim woman shopping in a store in Riverdale, Utah. The woman, who wore a veil, claims she was mocked by a cashier who said to her "please don't stick me up".

Walmart Regional Manager and Vice-President Rolando Rodiquez sent a letter to the woman which was released by the local chapter of CAIR, the Council of American-Islamic Relations:

"I can assure you that the associate in question was disciplined in accordance with our employment policies as a result of the situation," Rodriguez said without disclosing details.

Walmart also vowed that the employees at the Riverdale store will undergo sensitivity training on Islamic religion and Muslim culture.

Source - Acc-TV
Source - Detroit Free Press

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