This is Art Pope:
His family owns and operates Variety Wholesalers Inc., a company incorporated in North Carolina. That company might not sound too familiar, but I’m sure you’ve seen “Roses,” “MaxWay” and “Super Dollar” around NC (and throughout the Southeast). These retail locations offer incredibly cheap household goods (i.e. MADE IN CHINA, MADE IN TAIWAN, et cetera), and are usually located in lower-income areas within second or third generation shopping centers. That’s not a coincidence actually, the “Real Estate” section of their website has these requirements:
- We look primarily for locations in second and third generation shopping centers. In addition, we will consider free-standing sites, and store front locations in large urban cities. Site criteria include:Grocery anchored shopping center preferred.
- Minimum population of 2,500 within 1 mile of the site.
- Minimum 25% African-American population within 5 miles.
- Median household income of $40,000 or less.
It’s safe to conclude that there are only a limited number of locations in the Southeast that have the sort of low-income population density that a VWI retailer requires. An inevitable outcome is that the only way to build more stores is to increase the areas that fit this criteria.
One sure-fire way to swell the ranks of the financially malnourished is to have a hand in the direction of public policy. To achieve that these days, that hand had better be woven from cold hard cash. Mr. Pope contributes millions per year to the John Locke Foundation, the John William Pope Civitas Institute and Civitas Action (more on these in the future), all of which are Raleigh-based right-wing organizations. He is also a major contributor to and Director of Americans for Prosperity, a Koch Brothers group that achieved a bit of fame this year by funding the anti-union activities in Wisconsin. They are also known for floating around the country in a hot air (get it?) balloon, holding events to combat global warming “alarmism.”
I’ll stop here, because this is obviously becoming an Art Pope smear article. You can find them all over the place. Personally, I think he deserves it; but I don’t actually know the guy. It could be that his lifelong dream is to provide low-cost goods for the fiscally downtrodden. Hell, there are a bunch of families out there who rely on the prices at Roses to feed and clothe their children. Just keep an eye on him, OK? Politicians and ambitious businessmen stereotypically desire an increase in their power base. Art Pope’s power base is comprised of the low-income families across our fair state.