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STORE WARS: When Wal-Mart Comes To Town
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6/8/01
Mike
Wal-Mart has built "Superstores" all over the world. The main problem that I see when walking through this huge complexes is none are ever stocked properly. The grocery isles including frozen foods are almost always empty. The produce section is the worst I have ever seen from moldy Grapefruit to rotten Bananas.

Being "BIG" causes it's own problems in themselves. The lesser of two evils, being big or being to small to compete will always be a problem. Wal-Marts bring a diversity of customers. Most just want a great deal! Big chains have money and most chains will not budge on pricing even if Wal-Mart is "next door". Sooner or later more Grocery Companies will have to shut down. Sooner or later there will be one or two chains left and sooner "not later" everyone will be paying out the yazoo for goods not services.



6/8/01
Jim Clayton
Apparently the opposite of the Babylonian system of corporate monopoly debt capitalism is free enterprise-- including the ability to keep and store the fruits of one's labor without confiscatory withholding and intentional, managed inflation by the state.

Like many Americans-- I' sure, my wife and I had reservations about WalMart, etcetera, which were confirmed by your enlightening, motivating work. Thank you.

You work is particluarly important because politics and economics are misrepresented and concealed by so called state educators.



6/8/01
Ben Burd
After watching the film, here in Cobourg Ont., the parallels between Ashland and what we are facing here, right down to the election and the actions of a lame duck council make me believe that Walmart's strategists have their tactics down pat. It would be interesting to research the timing of applicatiions for Walmart's vis a vis the political environment and elections. We must establish their pattern!

Perhaps somewhere there is published, by Walmart, a "Walmart guide to establishing a new store". From the the timing of the application, the co-opting of the local politicians, the softening up of the local population, the revising of the applications etc.

We know in Ontario the developer's (Walmart does not usually own their stores they lease) pattern is simple: ask for a site-specific zoning on a piece of unzoned land, then come back in a couple of years and ask for more ancillary buildings and then the developers (who lease the stores to Walmart) will come back and ask for a "power centre". A very efficient way of 'hoovering' up the retail opposition and preparing for the second stage of Walmrt's advance; the Supercentre and the closing of three of four smaller nearby stores.



6/8/01
Gerald
As a Richmond graduate (GO SPIDERS!) I am familiar with this region, but even more so because I began dating an acquaintance who was from Ashland. It is a very beautiful and DIVERSE community.

Why did the film maker only show the UPPER CLASS in the community. Where are the shots of the many TRAILER PARKS and the TRUCK STOP that brings hundreds of truckers into Ashland every day???? The true diversity of the community was NOT shown.

Response from the filmmaker:

Let's see -- most of the homes you see are of the people who are the key "characters" in the story. The most "upper class" home in the film is of jim moore, the pro-wal-mart town council member. But you also see his colleague on the town council, franklin jackson, visiting a home in the black neighborhood that is far from "upper class." The home of the pro-wal-mart lady baking cookies would also not belong in that category. Street scenes simply show neighborhoods of the town and the truck stop is briefly in the film, when the narrator says that most people do their shopping in the malls by the highway.




6/8/01
Pamela Evans
Excellent series. Channel-surfing paid off this time!

I personally made a decision 2 years ago NOT to shop wal-mart after an unpleasant experience I had at a local store (Aiken, SC). I had always objected to the crowded roadways and parking lots around this store, but, like many others, was lured in by "cheap goods".

I think the Super Centers smack of Big Brother-ism; I mean, heck, they even print your personal checks for you! I'm not tech-savvy, but that seems a little creepy to me.

I think my mom is a wal-mart addict, or at least has been sucked into their cult. She (65 y.o.)likes the "one-stop-shopping" angle they offer. Yet, her community leaders, a tourist town in East Tennesse, complain incessantly about a wal-mart practice of allowing RVs to overnight in their parking lots; how convenient for wal-mart---- the RVers just walk out the front door of their shiny Airstreams into walmart's eager greeters' open arms. (Secretly, I believe that is wal-mart's ultimate goal; if we can't move into your back-yard and take your spendable income, then shoot, we'll let you move onto our huge lots!)

I wish I could remember the title of a novel I read 2-3 years ago. It involved a fictitious corporate giant moving into a town, hiring citizens, brainwashing them, and then some other horros. I remember thinking, "This sounds just like wal-mart".

Now that I have seen the story and read the facts, my resolve has deepened. I have asked many friends and family members to join me in a total boycott of wal-mart. (My mom, however, has had more relapses than Robert Downey, Jr.) I'm teaching my 12-year old son the social dangers of indisciminate consumerism.

Good luck to all of small town America.



6/8/01
Chad Powell
Greetings All,
I feel like I am straddling the fence on this issue. I worked for Wal-mart while a college student in a small farming community in Northern Utah. I can say that it was not a pleasant experience. The local management team members were very unprepared for their positions. I felt I was a very good associate for my department. I spent a lot of personal time improving myself to better serve the customers. Unfortunatly I never recieved any direct recognition for a job well done from the store management, even though I had received two customer compliments (which are very hard to get!) I quite my job, and still hold many bitter feelings, when my wife took a job at a Wal-Mart distribution center a half-hour away in my home town. I find it interseting that it seems to be a totally seperate company that runs the DC versus the store. My wife is extremly happy at her job there, and is very well treated. I still hold a lot of mistrust. Now they are building a supercenter in this town because the community has such a pos

I have also been wondering, if so many people hate Wal-Mart, and do not want it, then why shop there? I find it amazing how such a hated company can prosper like it is! Why? Because even people who hate it give it their money, and yes they do have a choice! If a small town like Ashland really does not want the store, then don't shop at the Wal-Mart store! It is that simple. If you don't feed the beast, it cannot live....



6/8/01
Ray Kirsch Jr.
Watching your documentary on the WAL-MART assault on the poor citizens of Ashland, I got sick to my stomach knowing what is in store for them. I too grew up in a small South/Central Texas town where everyone knew one another and did our shopping with the individual merchants who cared about us and us about them. When WAL-MART decided they were going to come into town everyone was excited about the idea of not having to drive 50 miles to San Antonio for items not carried by our local stores. We received the same "song and dance" of how there was going to be a peaceful coexistance between local businesses and the "one stop" shopping GIANT,unfortunately we welcomed them with open arms. The town I grew up in and loved is no longer there, it's there but only a shell. After WAL-MART successfully put the "little people" out of business, most sold the buildings and moved away. Now the town is more of a giant antique store lining Main St.. Small towns that are invaded either have to capitalize on a certain aspect of



6/8/01
Gary Ayres
I am from Great Bend, Kansas and before Wal-Mart came to my town we had a K-Mart, TG&Y, Gibsons, Otasco, JCPenney's, Sears, and an Alco. After Wal-Mart came to our town we have lost K-Mart, TG&Y, Gibson's, Otasco, Sears, and Alco. On the fair side Alco and Gibson may have left before Wal-Mart arrived, so I can't say Wal-Mart pushed them out. As for Wal-Mart bringing in new jobs they do, but what can you do on a wage of $6 to $7 an hour? Is that not what McDonalds or BurgerKing pays ?? I have never heard parents say I hope Johnny gets a really good job at McDonalds. People really must understand how a dollar is "put back" into their communities. Turning a dollar over several times is what keeps a community strong,,,not sending your money to Arkansas. As a business Wal-Mart does set the standard, I own several thousands of dollars of its stock. But as for the quality of life Wal-Mart brought to my home town, that is a joke, it helped destroy it. So I go back to my subject title, business or life ? It was sad



6/8/01
Amanda
My town was once a beautiful community with a prosperous downtown and thriving local businesses--this was even while already having a regular Wal-Mart and a K-Mart. We house the mid-west's W.M. distibution center, thus it was only proper to erect an entirely new shopping center dedicated to a "Supercenter." The land that the new W.M. was erected on was zoned "farming," not "commercial" at the time of the building permit. Several consequences have occured:

1. The town now floods with heavy rain (concrete does not absorb water).
2. A new sewer system is being implemented (due to W.M. run-off) at the tax-payers' expense.
3. K-Mart, W.M.'s only discount competition was forced out of town.
4. The downtown is now a facade of empty, crumbling buildings housing a few banks, hair salons, and a topless bar.
To make matters worse, my husband and I own the ONLY family-owned grocery store left in the county. When the W.M.S. was being proposed, my husband was involved in a conference call with the town council, mayor, etc. basically blackmailing him with business vs. votes. What has Wal-Mart done for this community? Absolutely NOTHING. The dawn of the Supercenter actually forced the other local grocery stores to shut their doors, or merge (a buy-out) with KROGER. We remain, simply, because there are still a few old ladies who like their groceries delivered every Thursday. Because there are still some good customers who like to wait in line at the meat counter an



6/8/01
Karl Richtenburg
The documentary briefly touched on the issue of wealth retention, which I think should have been looked at in far more detail by both sides.

How much of that additional money brought into the town actually ends up staying in the town? The whole argument for Walmart hinged on the assumption that it would generate enough positive wealth for the town - enough to offset any small business loss, traffic jams, and all other negative effects.

To illustrate this point:

Before Walmart, the town operated on a daily basis with a certain amount of money coming in from the outside, a certain amount leaving the town, and a certain amount circulating within the town. Since Ashland has consistently been a 'small town' so to speak - we can see that there was an overall balance in they way the wealth flowed.

The temptation of having a Walmart in town, atleast as the documentary portrayed it - was to have more money coming into the town from the outside. Changing that economic balance in a way that more wealth would be brought in and kept in the town - therefore allowing the town as a whole to grow, prosper, increase its wealth.

The problem with this notion is that you need to keep in mind that Walmart's primary responsibility is to its shareholders. Once Taxes and Wages are paid, you can be certain that the rest of the profits are going to go out of Ashland and ultimately into the pockets of its shareholders.

The result is that you have more money coming in and more money going out. But the only real contribution or gain in wealth for Ashland (money kept in the town) is taxes and wages above what will be lost by the closing of other businesses.

The trip the mayor took to the other town pretty much sums up the result. Walmart thrives and other busineses close. But the amount of actual wealth kept in the town pretty much stays the same. The town is not monetarily richer or poorer in any significant way.

What does significantly change - is that shopping and traffic get concentrated around the walmart. If small businesses are to survive and prosper - they need to open up complimentary (not competing) stores near by such as gas stations, restaurants, and movie theaters so that they can try and get money out of the additional traffic created by Walmart. And - since many small businesses located away from the center of town will end up closing - Ashland will increasingly depend on Walmart as a source for getting people and money into the town.

I hate to say it but, now that the decision has been made to go down this road - the best thing that Ashland can do it try to attract more 'big boxes' so they can increase that marginal gain in wealth - and give their local merchants the chance to take advantage of the increased traffic flow.

Such a shame too, the people knew this going to happen and overwhelmingly voted to keep their town as it was.



6/8/01
Linda Wilson
Living in the Sun Belt, I'm used to seeing democracy go by the wayside in favor of developers and their clients -- tourists and resorts, as well as retailers, in our case. I was really shocked, however, to see a small town back East railroaded the way we are here on a regular basis. With all due respect to the filmmaker, I think she should have called her documentary "The Death of Democracy", or perhaps, "The Birth of Plutocracy". Hearing the word "democracy" from the mouths of today's politicians -- our current head of state included -- seems to me tantamount to blasphemy.



6/8/01
Dinah Flowers
I saw firsthand what happened to a small college town when Wal-Mart came to town. Even though our daughter initially chose not to shop there, her resolve was short-lived when the mom-and-pop stores slowly disappeared, changing the flavor of the small town she chose for her college years.

While I agree that those who choose to patronize Wal-Mart should be allowed to do so, the problem is that whether I shop there or not, my shopping choices become limited. I have seen fabric stores go out of business when they can't compete with Wal-Mart prices, leaving stitchers without an alternative.

The stores are not my style. I do not choose to have a personal relationship with greeters and farewell-ers who don't know me. I last shopped there two years ago (when NO store was any longer available as a choice) and I vowed never to go again. I'll take my business on-line.

As for the city council in the film, my initial thought was that they should have left this decision to the new council. However, upon reflection, I believe they are charged with making informed decisions of their own--not those that are dictated, even by the majority. That's what happens in a representative government, and that's what we have.

If 81% of the citizens don't shop at Wal-Mart, how long can they stay in business? The marketplace DOES work, and clearly lots of people shop at Wal-Mart. I don't.



6/8/01
Don
The problem is really all about money and power. When a corporation is allowed to become this rich and powerful their advantage is just too great. They can buy political clout at any level. They can afford as many marketing gurus as needed to cover up their misdeeds, lies and abuses. Walmart is not an example of the American dream; it will prove to be nightmare if their longterm plans are fulfilled. Walmart is the high priest for all that is wrong with our country. Walmart believes that money rules over all, that greed and a lack of compassion are essential traits for success (or maybe even survival)in America. Sam Walton's legacy is "forget your neighbor andlook out for number one".

There is obviously substantial opposition to Walmart. We need courageous political figures to carry our torch. When we find such leaders, we have to give them full support. That is the only way to stop Walmart's ruthless and monopolistic practices.

It is depressing to know that I live in a nation where Geoffrey and Diana Simpson of New York are allowed to vote (see their earlier message). These people are beyond help, but I offer this much help anyway: Amend your last sentence to read "Walmart's ultimate goal is to extort undue profits from the local community without fear of outside competition". G. and D., get more oxygen.



6/8/01
Julie
Hi my nam is Julie I'm very proud to say i work at wal-mart say what you want but they do do a lot for msn and other groups. they give back. why is it always the big guy that gets picked on. They are doing very well and should be admired for what they do. they give more jobs then any other co. they are no. 1 they sell for less. they do a lot for there employees.
they do a lot for others. they have morels. so I ask you how dose all this make then bad. they are doing good think about what i just said and you might just like wal-mart a lot. all the people tha work there do. thank and have a great day.



6/8/01
Phil Feser
I live in Red Bluff California where the local Walmart has killed-off several local retailers and the customer service consists of underpaid part-time teenagers who couldnt tell you the difference between a Dustbuster and a Ghostbuster! There's a Walmart in every town. What's with the edited music they sell? I suppose they will eventually decide which books we should read too! I believe Walmart easily preys on towns full of ignorant people who arent smart enough to "see" the real impact. Towns desperate for jobs, workers who are like sheep! If you have ANY choice: DON't let them move to your town!



6/8/01
Charles Griffith
People like to point thier finger at Wal-Mart and blame them for the demise of thier local businesses in their small towns. Wal-Mart is an easy target. Rarely do people point thier finger at the failed business and ask "Why weren't you a better competitor?". And they NEVER point the finger at themselves and ask "Why wasn't I a better consumer?" If you don't like Wal-Mart don't shop there. Support your local businesses. Go down town and deal with the parking and the traffic. If you have several stores to go to then you'll also have to deal with the weather and the parking and the traffic. Not always but it's likely you'll pay a higher price at your small localy owned business because they just don't have the buying power of a Wal-Mart. Is your down town opened every day 24 hours a day? Wal-Mart is. Ever seen the fat eccentric owner of the comic book shop on the Simpsons? He is free to inflict his disagreeable personality on his customers whenever he feels like it because he doesn't have a corpor

And talk about arrogance--those people on the documentary that were opposed to Wal-Mart were all business OWNERS. They owned antiques and sipped cappucinos and played banjos in front of brick fireplaces. They sent their 8 year-olds to school with anti-Wal-Mart petitions and cried when it was voted that Wal-Mart should come to town and lamented the closing of the boutique their mother had shopped at even though they themselves hadn't shopped there since the Wal-Mart 8 miles down the road had opend 10 years ago and greived the passing of the word quaint from thier daily vocabulary. Oh and that part with the REAL teen-agers talking about Wal-Mart around the pool table, cheers to them and thier drama teacher, that was a well acted scene, Bravo! Where were the people that didn't go to college and didn't make more than $20,000 a year or those on fixed incomes such as the elderly or disabled.

I don't agree with everything Wal-Mart does (they sell tobacco and liquor and guns and R-rated movies and violent video games but they won't sell uncensored rap music tapes and CD's that's hypocrtical at least if not racist) but they're a business in it to make money and they do it very well. Sears and Woolworth wouldn't have done anything less and if K-Mart or Target had the chance to become the #1 retailer in the world they wouldn't hold back because they were worried that a mom'n'pop in Ashland might have to close.



6/8/01
Rick Turner
I have been in the retail store design and store fixture business for over 25 years. I built my business working with independent retailers in NC, SC and VA. Thanks in large part to Wal Mart, most of these retailers have ceased to exist. When Wal Mart builds a store on the outskirts of town, the old established businesses immediately begin to fail. I have seen this happen time and again. It's sad that these towns gave away their heritage for the opportunity to be able to buy a leaf blower at midnight.

Although Wal Mart is by far the greatest spoiler, there are many others too. Another by-product is the "carbon copy" effect. After a half dozen or so of the major chains have opened a store in your town, it starts to look like every other town. A CVS Drug Store in Small Town, OH looks just like the one here in Indian Trail, NC!



6/8/01
john
I hope micha gets to read this i worked for walmart once as a manager and let me say that you my friend have played right into the hands of walmart.You have made a documentary on them and that is how they like.Did you ever hear the phrase bad publicity is better than no publicity at all.Dont no who qouted that but that is why Walmart didnt want you to have the names of their competitors in the film.You have just publisized Walmart in the town of ashland and it didnt cost them a penny for advertisement of the store.Your going to broadcast this all over the world and again advertisement was free. man they are thanking you all the way to the bank.You should have exercised your first amednment and told the story like you wanted to.Ill be watching the program to see exactly how much more publicity you gave this company.



6/7/01
john
To all the people in the world you do not understand what walmart is about.They are going to destroy all mom and pop shops they can.And when walmart has the strongest foothold in the retail sector they will not leave stores empty but to compensate for this all employees will become part-time employees and will suffer just like those people in sweatshops in foreign countries.It is already happening where a parttime employee at walmart now has to work twice as long as a full time employee to get a third of the benefits they the fulltime employees get.Walmart has some good objectives for its emloyees but at the same time instructs their store managers to disregard them also.As one person said and i cant quote who it was but americans are the most gullable people in the world.And this is what walmart practices.Yes im no longer a walmart manager due to the fact that some of the things that go on in walmarts are well lets say they would blow your mind.Walmart doesnt have retail experts in it;it just takes the idea



6/7/01
Ryan
Watching the town council vote seemed like an episode of "Survivor". I wonder how they sleep at night.

It appears as no one can stop the Wal-Mart Juggernaut. What will we do when there is no other place to shop?



6/7/01
John Stokes
I have found be experience of dealing at Wal- mart that these pruducts that are good items from good compamies who make these items,but, the problem with Wal-mart is that they get second's that are the poorest of quality,and ,these pruducts of other companies who have good products,Walmart get the chespest of the chestest in quality from these companies.

I bought a vacum cleaner priced over $100 ,and, turned to get an exchange because this item was cheap,and tear it.Three times I returned a vacum cleaner,and ,they had a big sign that said that if anything went wrong their would replace it.Walmart does not stand behind what they say.

The only time I would every buy anything from this store is if its under $50,anything higher than that,then your asking for trouble,because something will go wrong with their stuff because their items are CHEAP.



6/7/01
Brian Donnelly
I am interested in knowing if the Misrepresented Professor took any action against Wal-mart, or if this matter was brought to the attention of the voters and the council.

Also, in the 1hr expose', it wasn't made known if the council was ever provided reputable and accurate information regarding employee benefits and compensation.

To those who mentioned a "career track", please open your eyes. The career track is not open to the general Wal-mart associate that will be hired in these small towns. Corporate America takes care of Corporate America.

Response from the filmmaker:

Prof. Nora Barnes wrote a letter to the Ashland town council clarifying the real results of her study. In one of the public hearings a town resident, one of the "pink flamingos" read it out loud and presented it to the town council. It didn't make the cut into the film because the town council ignored it and the letter itself was fairly technical in its details.

I'm sure this was part of the glossy package of info wal-mart presents each town council it sets out to seduce. I have never seen the issue coming up in discussions. Basically, most residents felt that they'd rather preserve this precious commercial land to an employer who will offer jobs paying a real living wage. A minority of residents wanted the wal-mart jobs regardless of their benefits. My understanding is that half the wal-mart employees who are qualified for benefits opt not to take them, because they are still fairly costly (they ahve to pay about 30% of the health insurance) because they can't afford them.




6/7/01
Richard M Waugh
An excellent production - although you make Ashland out to be a much prettier place than it realy is. (My daughter graduated from Randolph-Macon).

I have several unrelated questions - you can use them at your discretion

First let me say that I live in Chester Va - a town like Ashland - on the same tracks as Ashland but 15 miles south of Richmond instead of 15 miles north. We have a Walmart also.

Q1 Do you plan a follow up on the impact of Walmart on towns like Ashland?

(Suggestion - take a look at Farmville Va - I think its more typical of a Walmart environment.)

Q2 Has anyone set up a process where small towns can do a full long term economic analysis on any superstore project. This should cover the total tax stream both from the new venture and the reduction in revenues from impacted (devalued) older businesses. Employment impacts should be analysed. Increases needed in all town services should also be addressed. And lastly the social impact on refocussing town life from "downtown" to the superstore environment.

(This would be a great exercise for some B-School)

Q3 Is it possible to get a copy of this on video in PAL format? My brother-in-law in Scotland works for the local small business association - he sees these battles looming on his horizon.

Feel free to e-mail me w. any questions/replies.

Thanks again for a great production

R. M. Waugh

Response from the filmmaker:

A1. This would be a worthwhile project. However, it won't justify an entire one-hour new film, and the nature of television is that they don't have space on their schedule for a brief update of a previous film. If PBS offered me to produce one i'd be glad to do so. But you don't really have to await to find out the impact of wal-mart on towns like ashland (which is really the point, anyway) -- in the film we see it in nearby tappahanock. For more examples just browse across this chat.

A2. There have been a lot of academic studies done on wal-mart. You can get to some of them by contacting the organizations listed in the resource section of the website: pbs.org/storewars. Note that in the film we learn about an economic impact study that was done by prof. Nora barnes from u. Of mass. - Darmouth. It's the study whose fundings wal-mart misrepresents, as we find out in the film.

A3. I do have very few tapes in pal, which i use to send to festivals in europe. They are expensive to make. If you're still interested in mid july, pls contact me at teddybearfilms.Earthlink.Net and i'll tell you what it'll cost.




6/7/01
owasso, OK, has an empty wal mart store and a brand new wal mart super center in very close proximity to each other.wal mart meets the "plan" of the city planner to bring as many sales tax dollars and as many people to shop as possible. wal mart is an answer to that as is the overdevelopment of flood plain for houses.

flip side: existing businesses have fewer customers (me included) - wal mart has virtually everything basic to run a home: food, garden suppliesetc-low $-i only shop wmart when i shop owasso



6/7/01
michael eckert
I am working to open a small business next year. I inquired about leasing a small storefront in the 'Silver Springs Commons' shopping center and was told that Wal-Mart was petitioning the local planning commission to revise their existing store to a Super Center. Because of this, the developer would not accept new applications for leases of existing, empty storefronts. A few weeks later I learned that if the Super Center is approved many of the existing businesses located on that side of the center will be forced to re-locate. The Giant Food store, which was located on the opposite side of the shopping center facing Wal-Mart, must have took the initiative and moved to larger facilities across the highway.

There has also been media coverage that the entire 'MJ Mall' complex in Carlisle is to be torn down and replaced with a new Wal-Mart Super Center as well. This will place these stores only 10 miles from each other. The 'Store Wars' report has shown me that this is not going to end unless the public wants it to end.



6/7/01
chris weaver
The ONLY things that I would buy from WM is desposable items.

Now (many years later) that they came to town, only the well-to-do shop downtown.We have to stop at nearly every stop lite.The DownTown owners don't want the traffic to fly on out of town. How many people have you herd of that has retired from WM? Not me! Several that were close,but the most amazing things happens. Hours get cut,or something else.

WALL-MART FALL-APART

AND THEY KNOW IT

CORUPTION and COVER-UPS = DOWN FALL



6/7/01
Madelene S.
Yes, we have a WalMart Store in our small Indiana town. And, yes, the front sidewalks are dirty and littered. Because the JC Penney store recently left our community I'm forced to drive to another town thirty miles away to get moderately priced clothing which will last! Why am I not scurrying to WalMart to clothe myself? Because their clothing is junk! I'm still hopping mad that I have no place to go for decent clothes. By the way, our JC Penney store was located in WalMart Plaza....I expect their profits just weren't high enough with the competition nearby.



6/7/01
Michael Moeller
Several years ago, prior to the passing of Sam Walton, Wal-Mart prided themselves on providing products made in the USA. Now that Mr. Walton is gone and his kids are in control, products made in the States are few and far between. Don't believe me? Walk into a Wal-Mart and just start picking up merchandise and look at where it was made. China, Taiwan, Mexico, etc. The list goes on, but China is far and away one of the major producers. The battle in Ashland is nothing more than an extension of this change in philosophy. As was pointed out in the film, Sam Walton, in his own autobiography, said Wal-Mart would not put a store in a town where it was not wanted. I really would like to meet the mathmetician who thinks that 81% is a minority!! Shame on Wal-Mart, shame on Sam's children, and shame on the town council of Ashland that voted for this. I truly believe that you will come to regret your decision.



6/7/01
David Robertson
I never thought I would be coming to the defense of Wal-Mart, but the opponents just struck me as a bunch of sanctimonious self-centered yuppies. I actually changed my mind during the course of the show.

Ashland is not Mayberry. It is on one of the most heavily-traveled interstate highways in the country, something like 25 miles from Richmond, a major city, and maybe 50 miles from the southern edge of the east coast megalopolis. It has a huge amusement park and a couple of mega-truckstops nearby. Its destiny is sprawl, Wal-Mart or no. Just look north. Within my own memory (and I grew up in central Virginia) Manassas and Springfield, even Falls Church, were not all that different from what Ashland was in the recent past.

I am no fan of big-box stores. I think they are architectural abominations when new, and worse when they go vacant.

But, Jeez, those self-righteous flamingo people actually made me sympathetic to Wal-Mart.



6/7/01
Jim Palmer
Thanks for airing "Store Wars". It at least gives a voice to those of us who are not yet ready to roll over and accept global capitalism's promise of a "better tomorrow".

I find it particularly apalling (and this is something not brought out by "Store Wars") that WalMart has waged such a "Made in America" campaign when 98% of what you find in WalMart is "Made in China".

It's a shame when people are no longer able to determine the nature of their environment, in what they are not willing to accept. It's obvious that the big bucks are with the WalMarts of the world and that it doesn't matter what we care about for our comunitities.

Let's have more documentaries like "Store Wars" to at least give a voice to those of us who still cares what happens in our communities.



6/7/01
Vaidyanathan Ramesh
I totally side with people who fought against Wal-mart.

Not only Wal-mart stores are not great they certainly close many small businesses. Even assuming they hire the same amount of people it basically means you have moved entrepreneurs to Wal-mart workers.

One of the key things the supporters of Wal-mart refused to look at is: Wal-mart is a discount store which means cost-cutting is a primary thing do. Basically their 'associates' will get paid very low. The associates can't go anywhere because the businesses which existed have died.

The other thing which really stood out from the film is how the town council totally went against the spirit of democracy by okaying Wal-mart when after all they are a lame-duck council. This reminded me how the lame-duck legislators in Michigan allowed concealed weapons in Michigan.



6/7/01
Maggie
As an environmentalist, I am very pleased to see this small town fight against Walmart. In my home town, I've watched three Walmarts desert slightly out-dated but perfectly functional buildings to clear huge forrested areas and build new "Super Walmarts". Not only did they build new eye-sores in our city, they left the old ones to decay. I currently live in a small town that has been invaded by Walmart, and I firmly believe we would be better off without them. The documentary on the fight against Walmart in Ashland raises some questions for Walmart. First, the argument was made that Walmart will bring more employment to Ashland; is there an unemployment problem in Ashland? Of the new jobs created by Walmart, how many of them will be filled by people transferred from stores in other areas? And finally, why does this globally successful company feel the need to force its way into an area where it is obviously not wanted?



6/7/01
Robert West
The city council seemed to have lost the idea behind why they were elected. They were elected by the people to represent the people, not personal goals or ideas. When you are an elected public official, you are chosen, usually, by a majority of people to represent their views. To sit there and go against 81% of the people that you were chosen to represent is not democracy.

I truly feel for this town. I believe most reasonable people would agree that we do not need a Wal-Mart every 10 miles and a town has the right to insist on how they as a group wish to conduct the affairs of their town.



6/7/01
eddie browning
wal mart has a place in the retail nitch.it does not have the right to play bully.in many cases it has caused small mom and pop stores to go out of business.wal mart could care less about community impact any more than any other big chain.it all is bottom line.wal mart needs to leave little towns like ashland alone....



6/7/01
Claire
This story highlights a clash in values that would be useful for Americans to talk about everywhere. Not far from Ashland, a beautiful and thriving small college town, is Manassas, Va--where developers wanted to build a Civil War themed Disneyland on gorgeous land near the site of the Battle of Bull Run. Many citizens were up in arms about this, also, I believe the project sank due to citizen opposition. One of the issues is asthetics. All of American is not yet ugly strip malls, devoid of natural beauty...Ashland homeowners own property in a gorgeous town with easy access to numerous and redundant shopping experiences. I live 40 miles away from Ashland and two Wal-Mart's lie in my path on my way to visit Ashland. Joni Mitchell's song still holds true: "they paved Paradise and put up a parking lot..." Much of America is ugly, much of it is beautiful...let's stop the madness of making it all look ugly and the same.



6/7/01
Alice
WalMart stores have been protested in Anchorage Alaska and in Eagle River Alaska where I live. They still went up anyways. The opening of the stores have shut down many family owned specialty stores. I got an email from someone complaining about being an out-of-work american when all our products are made in 3rd world contries. This would not be so if we were not so cheap and want to save a buck. Then the same people complaining about not having a job don't acknowledge why the sweatshops are working the way they are. Saving a dollar hurts others we pitty, but don't change our greedy ways. There is so much we can change, but first it must be acknowledging our fellow man, they have a right to quality of life no matter where they live and what language they speak. Americans are quick to judge without willing to change and help. This is a great country to live in if you don't want to see the dark side to our cheapness.



6/7/01
Naftali Rottenstreich
Kathy- Lee's presence at the beginning of the documentary only confirmed that as long as we continue to utilize child labor in developing nations, we will always have an ample supply of the cheap products we so desperately want.



6/7/01
Cheryl
I grew up a few miles from Ashland and go back frequently. There is no good reason for a WalMart in Ashland except to undercut existing businesses, and it would be a negative force in a lovely old town. There is a huge WalMart already on Parham Road, straight down Route 1 from Ashland. Ashland already has quite a few large stores, not to mention King's Dominion nearby, and really doesn't need more. It needs more thoughtful development in line with an historic college town.



6/7/01
John Newell,former mayor of Ashland
I dismiss the suggestion that behind the scenes dealing was going on. Rather, I think the Council's seemingly total commitment to letting the marketplace determine growth was the major player; more of a right-wing philosophy referred to by the then Council as "pro-business". A "community-building" approach to issues was not important nor were many of the negative externalities that are pretty well covered in the film; Council's concerns were almost totally limited to traffic in the area of the proposed development.

This, then, allowed Council to ignore the 81 percent of the population that did not support this develpment, as well as not following our comprehensive plan, which projected much of this area to develop as an office park (develoment had begun) with less traffic and better employment opportunities. Service sector jobs are already overabundant in our town.

Possibly the most immediate impact will be traffic in an already overburdened street system and the impact of that traffic on quality of life here. The impact on current local business is not debatable in small towns, it is obvious.

I would dismiss the suggestion that an additional Wal Mart in our area would increase the variey of merchandise...I can't imagine what the new store would carry that existing ones do not (there are currently three in our area). No one is denied shopping in Wal Mart in our community today; perhaps the more appropriate question would be "what role should everyday citizens of the community have been allow to play in the decision-making"....and the film gives you the answer!

Come and visit us, Amtrak stops right downtown eight times a day. We love visitors!



6/7/01
Rick Arnold
A year ago Wal-mart requested that Cobourg (Canada) town council change a freshly minted town plan to allow them to build in the outskirts of town. Five town councillors and the mayor (all of whom had received campaign donations from the local developer representing Wal-Mart)were quick to oblige. They did schedule one major public forum in the dog days of summer when most townspeople had other concerns on their mind. Surprisingly, 200 people turned out and 13 of 22 speakers opposed or were concerned about the impact on the town's own official plan. Council, however moved quickly and last fall okayed the Wal-Mart application.

Cobourg citizens are now fighting this in the Ontario courts and we are slowly seeing more local residents willing to speak out against this big box retailer. July 11 is D Day around here,as the court will hand down an initial judgement.

We will be watching Store-Wars tonight at a local eatery and will glean "lessons learned" from the Ashland experience, organize, and keep our fingers crossed for the future!



6/7/01
Larry
The wal-mart is good in as many ways as it is bad. But I would like to know wat happned to the comunnity after the walmart was built.Are there still family owned business around ashland??Good afternoon



6/6/01
Linda Friedman
I just read and saw some of the people from Ashland, Va express their unhappiness at the idea of a wal mart right in their city, and I would be opposed to a wal mart in that nice little city if I lived there also. I do not like wal mart and I never have and I never will. wal mart seems to spreading across the world like a horrible disease. i don't like when trees (100 yr old oaks) have to be cut down for any reason. Go Pink flamingos. you have my support.



6/6/01
Dana Wickware (DSW)
A seldom noted consequence of retail saturation by Walmart and similiar outlets is that, despite the huge number of different items stocked, within a given product category, there's little depth of choice and items that are rarely called for simply aren't stocked at all. Profit - as much as can be taken in - is the sole objective of this outfit, and offering products that don't move fast is inconsistent with the profit goal.

Furthermore, the emphasis on price at the exclusion of all else simply accelerates the vending of increasingly shoddy merchandise. What happened to the notion of price plus quality?

It certainly isn't evident at Walmart.



6/6/01
Melba
I live in a very rural community in Utah. There are about 10,000 in our county, which includes about 8 towns. We have to travel into another county to do our shopping, which is about 20 miles from my town, and about 40 for some of the others. Their county is a little larger than ours with more of a city setting, but theirs is smaller. They have a Wal-Mart and a K-mart and we're doing very well. You can get the things that you need that we would otherwise have to go without because the smaller stores in our county don't carry them. I think it would be good to put it in Ashland, it could help their community as much as it's helped ours with the amount of jobs it brings and the lower prices.



6/6/01
Patrick Nolan
I like to have a choice when and where I shop. Walmart may be all of the bad things listed in the news piece BUT they have competitive prices and no one is forced to buy there.

If Walmart "destroys" small town merchants, most of the blame must rest with local consumers and merchants. The consumers choose to buy where prices and variety meet their needs; the local merchants apparently choose not to carry the variety of merchandise that Walmart does at Walmart's prices.

If Walmart runs over local political units, they still obey the same laws the rest of us do. Otherwise, they'd be put out of business.

Each Walmart employee chooses to work at Walmart. I don't choose to work there, but some people do, by their own free will. If they didn't, Walmart wouldn't be able to function.

I remember hearing in the late 1950's that the interstate highway system would "destroy" small towns

in America. Before that, the movement off the farm of the majority of Americans supposedly signaled the end of "the American way." Walmart is just one more step along the road we're traveling and a small one at that!

Our time would be better spent considering what the next step down the road will be.



6/6/01
KStory
In my town of Plano, Texas we have Four Walmart's and Three Sam's. They want to build more and have been driven back out of the neighborhoods and back to the major roads. I can't believe that our town needs all of this. But there seems to be nothing that can be done. They have high paid lawyers and lots of money to get what they want. They are built backed upto 500,000 houses were most of Dallas Cowboys live; it's hard to believe.



6/6/01
Kathy Olson
Walmart wanted to come to our small California Foothill Committee with the promise of MORE JOBS. Well if you offer a starving man food, wouldn't he take it? Naturally Walmart was approved. Within 5 years of it's opening with most of it's employees reaching "vestment" and making a least a livable wage; Walmart had a "hitman" from the cooperate offices, come spend a few months observing. By the end of his visit, many of the experienced employees were replaced with inexperienced workers lower paid workers who do not know the value customer relations or appreciate a job. Walmart does not value its employees and our community lost a beautiful hillside and many 100-year oak trees!



6/5/01
janet
so pbs. How about doing a story on wal mart practices with their vendors/suppliers? Go to a Proctor and Gamble National Account Manager and ask what it's like trying to sell to Wal Mart....



6/5/01
c kueno
I REFUSE to shop in a walmart!!!!!!! They are rude and unappologetic. Their whole way of doing business is like fingernails on a chalkboard! They prepare for the day with a cult-like morning "cheer" ...which translates into " thanks for letting us sucker you into working here instead of letting you find a real career". They bully any vendor or delivery person who DARE inconveniance them by doing only their job. They will also sacrifice sales by removing a vendor's products from the shelves just to spite them.

They cannot comprehend cleanliness! The lots outside are always dirty, the floors unkept, the bathrooms horrendous. Not to mention the overwhelming number of employees disregarding personal hygeine.

Walmart can only bring to the community grief, filth, dead-end jobs , and a big blue eye-sore with a totally unoriginal yellow smiley face on it!!!!!!!!!

I agree with this town to have the right to ban this store! And if we all boycott walmart then they will start to disappear.

I believe waste rolls downhill, and it all starts at the top with the CEO!!!!!!!!!!



6/5/01
Anonymous
I firmly believe that walmart should come to the town. Walmart will include a better selection of goods. People must also know that walmart also started as a small business and that it is actually what you would call the perfect example of the american way.



6/5/01
Donna
I live in a small town too and we were just informed we will be getting a WalMart. I really do not believe it will be protested. I read some of the posts and I can't believe people feel the residents of Ashland are stupid because they oppose the WalMart. This IS America people and they do have the right to protest it. They do not have to go to a third world country just because they do not want a Walmart coming to town. For the person in New York---- Your parents might drive 40 miles to a store to get clothes but that is not the case in Ashland. They already have access to stores that are not FILTHY like Walmart. I have NEVER been in a clean Walmart. I will not allow my children to go in the bathrooms and I have quit shopping at Walmart , so when one comes to my town-- I will continue to drive 20 miles to another store. Walmart is a store that doesn't deserve to expand. It has already done enough damage to places they already exist.



6/5/01
Jack King
As a vendor who's primary customer base since the beginning of the 20's has been the local mercantile store on main street USA, we have watched our customer base erode from over 5,000 to as little as 1,500 within the last ten years primarily due to Wal-Mart. We are STILL PRODUCING in the USA and have somewhat been forced to sell to Wal-Mart due to the lack of customers. At the disgression of someone in charge either at the store level or home office, our product can be removed from their shelves and returned to us seeking credit. We have no say in the matter. This has happened SEVERAL times. We find it very hard to compete with similar foreign made goods sold by Wal-Mart sold at less than it actually costs to make here in the States. Any Community that fights to keep Wal-Mart out is doing themselves a HUGE favor. The Community as a whole will be stronger as well as have control of their own future. If they do not stand up and say NO to Wal-Mart, their lives will be controlled directly from Bentonvil



6/5/01
janet
I would strongly suggest that PBS attempt a story on WalMart practices with it's suppliers. Notoriously, WalMart is known to strong arm suppliers to the point where many are forced to lose money on supplying products to them due to their monopolistic position. This in turn, negatively impacts the employees of these vendors. Among those that compete in the mass market trade ( including the biggest of the household brand names) are entities more than any that would like to see WalMart pay a price for their business practices.

Understand, WalMart is more of a threat to our freedoms of choice --you haven't even scratched the surface. It's a hard story to write though, too many are afraid.



6/5/01
Tricia
I would like to know the after effects of Walmat in Ashland. Did the local businesses close or grow?

My home town of Peru, IN turned down Walmart & now the town has nothing to offer. You can get groceries, gas & pizza. That's it!

You have to drive 15 - 30 miles to the nearest store for clothing. I think the town's decision to not have a Walmart was in poor judgement. You have to leave the county to have a job or shop.

My Grandmother is a greeter for a Walmart & she loves it. It's in norhtern IN & they are very considerate towards her during the snow & bad weather. They know that she can't drive at night or in the bad weather. They even give her Dec - Feb off so that she won't have to deal with the bad winters they are know to have. Maybe her Walmart is different, but they take care of their employees as a small company would, but she gets full benefits!

As far as I can tell from my own observations in IN, Walmart has helps communities. The small businesses that closed would have closed anyway as their prices weren't competitive & many of the products out of date. Walmart has served the needs of the customers.

So what happend in Ashland?

Response from the filmmaker:

The store in Ashland will only open later in the year, so it's pre-mature to tell. However, already many Ashlanders feel this was a bum deal for them:

- Their entire tax revenues from the Wal-Mart store are getting wiped out by having to beef up their police force to deal with calls from the store and the parking lot

- They'll have to build more roads than Wal-Mart is paying for

- Wal-Mart sub-divided the lot, which they didn't tell the town they were going to do, and now the town is legally powerless to stop them. Clearly, that was their plan all along, but they just kept it hidden from the Town Council.

As for your grandmother, maybe she has many enjoyable years working for Wal-Mart. I do think Wal-Mart offers great employment opportunities for teenagers and the elderly. But not for people who have to make a living, which is the majority of us! If you're an average Wal-Mart employee with two kids you are below the poverty line. The community pays your kids' free lunch at school and subsidizes Wal-Mart cheap wages. The largest employer in the country is getting corporate welfare and sets the standards for the largest blue collar industry we have, the discount retail chains.


From Jay Pace, Publisher/Editor, Ashland Herald-Progress:

I honestly do not believe the council members who supported the W-M project believe it was going to be injurious to our health. For the majority of council, Mayor Herbert's feelings aside, this was a matter of a private property owner being allowed to do what is legal with his/her land as long as it does not severely damage the health of the community. The citizens group, in my view, was never able to address that in-bred, perhaps even archaic, view of private property rights. Even if they had tried, I am pessimistic about their chance for success. When W-M returned the second time with all objections "answered," it was going to take an act of God for the leadership to supercede that tantamount consideration.

In any case, I do not think it fair or accurate to say that Wal-Mart deceived us about the potential use of the remainder of the property or its possible subdivision. I think any reasonable person would expect that it would not simply be the big box sitting out there all by its mammoth lonesome.

Also, for the lady from Indiana, there is, I believe, a huge difference between her environment and ours. We already can get much more than groceries and pizza in Ashland and have been able to do that for some time. Besides, we can drive 15 minutes in one direction and 20 minutes in two other directions and get to a Wal-Mart.



6/5/01
Phyllis Wrynn
I'm completely devastated by the outcome. I couldn't see any evolution as to why the Town Council could have reached their decision, based on how much opposition there was to the proposal. Has anyone ever tracked what individuals all over the United States have stood to personally gain by voting on Walmart's side? Could there be payoffs or other incentives? I can't imagine the mayor hearing what the Tribble Brothers had to say, and then totally disregarding the heartbreak of the loss of their business. I have never been in a Walmart, and thank heaven I live in a historic district, which precludes there ever being one anywhere close by. It's a real American tragedy to lose small family-run businesses.

Response from the filmmaker:

From my perspective, two council members expressed their pro-Wal-Mart viewpoints clearly in the film -- Franklin Jackson, because the black community would like the jobs, Jim Moore because his belief in free market and letting business and the economy drive our decisions.

As for Tom Herbert, the mayor at the time, he'd deny it, but in my conversations with him (he refused to say it on camera), he was clearly very personally hurt by his loss in the elections. He saw it as a vendetta against him and was "seething with rage" (his words). So to me it's clear that his main motivation was to get back at the Pink Flamingos while he was still in power. This was his sweet revenge. His claim that he did what was best for Ashland should be examined now against the fact that all tax revenues Ashland will get from the store are wiped out by their added costs of having to beef up the police force because of the store. In addition, Ashland has to pay for more roads than Wal-Mart is paying for...



6/5/01
Walton Bernie
Resistance is futile!

www.big-box.com

Coming soon to YOUR street.



6/5/01
sam epperly
I found myself to be extremely angry at the ending of store wars.

The Ashland town council gets voted out of office by the people due to opposition to the WalMart ...the one gentleman makes a motion to pass this decision to the new council but it's rejected and the council usurps the will of the people and does what they damn well please.This council could have easily passed this WalMart decision on to the next council but it seems to me almost a spiteful form of revenge takes place against the voters by the existing council.It would be interesting to know whether the former town council members end up with some kind of positions with WalMart???



6/5/01
Rich Muller
I thought your documentary was excellent. I wonder why Ashland didn't demand more of a quid pro quo from Walmart? When Levitt built its' towns in Long island and elsewhere, they built the schools, roads, small shopping centers, parks, pools, etc. Ashland seemed to settle for a new left turn lane and a traffic light. The gentile spirit of Virginia got bamboozled by some highly paid gunslinger. If this location was so important to Walmart, make them pay with community improvements.



6/5/01
Geoffrey & Diana Simpson
We live in New York City and travel out of our way to shop at WalMart stores. Why should we spend $50 for a shortsleeved cotton broadcloth shirt at Abercrombie & Fitch AT THE MALL when that very same shirt can be purchased at WalMart for $6.99...better quality jeans for $11.00 instead of $45 at a Gap AT THE MALL??? My parents live in rural Maine and must spend 40% more on prescription drugs at the local "hometown" pharmacy because their fellow towspeople fought to keep out a Rite Aid Drug Store.

Furthermore, the "pink flamingos", an obvious front for the local vested interests, should look to their own conduct before crying foul at Wal-Mart. Cross bros.would have you believe that they provide unique and personal service, but if that is the case why were they not already stocking hearing aid batteries ? It's commendable the the manager of Cross Bros. should offer to drive to Wal-mart to get batteries for customers who need them, but if he were truly responsive to his customers needs he would already be doing that. The fact is that most local merchants are poorly stocked over-priced and never open. Further it is rare that a local merchant provides knowledgeble and personal service. More often they simply run the business in exactly the same way that their grandparents ran it. A cynic could point out that these people had been gouging the people of ashland for many generations and now it is time to give someone else a turn; although Wal-mart probably gouges less.

The claim that Wal-mart destroys local job opportunities is also rubbish. While it cannot be disputed that Wal-mart will put local business out of operation and jobs will be lost, the quality of jobs that Wal-mart replaces them with will undoubtedly be higher. Wal mart has a corporate structure and the possiblilty of career advancement. Also it provides health benefits and pesions. Wal-Mart is so large that its employment proctices are regulated by the NLRB, OSHA, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This is simply not the case with small independent merchants. A job with a local small store usually means long hours, low wages, no benefits and no hope of promotion. (Unless of course that the local business men, when they are imnplying that working for Wal-mart is Worse than working form them, are offering to hand out partnernerships to their employees; something I am sure is not the case.)

Ultimately the people who will be hurt by Wal-mart opening will be owners of some local stores and the owners of main street real estate. Almost everybody else will benefit. For most of those merchants it is hard to feel sympathy, after all if they had being running good businesses in the past, (i.e. efficient, value-priced, responsive to customer needs) then they would not have to fear Wal-mart.

Finally while much of the protest was couched as an altruistic crusade to save small town America, the real reason the "pink flamingos" protest is greed and fear. I doubt any on the protesters would ever stop and buy as at non-corporate affiliated gas station (they do exist).I'm sure when they travel they trust Macdonalds before they eat in an unknown diner. I say plenty of foreign cars, even though buying those costs good American Jobs (not crappy retail ones). Really their protest is about their right to extort undue profits from the local community without fear of outside competition.



6/5/01
Ken Pataska
Put quite simply:

If you don't want progress, live in a third world country.

This is America. Progress is our middle name. If you don't like it, move! Or buy the land and pay the taxes!

I can't believe that stupid people like this exist in the modern world! WalMart is a great store selling all kinds of goods. This isn't the 1800's people!!!

Wake up and smell the 21st Century!!!



6/5/01
Maura Muller
I recently lived in a rural Kansas town that had a small Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart pushed and bullied until a huge supercenter was approved, against the wishes of many of the citizens and small business owners.

Two years after the new store was opened, the old site is still vacant and sprouting weeds and graffiti. An eyesore in a once pretty small town. The only businesses profiting from the new supercenter on the outskirts of town are the McDonald's and the Exxon station across the highway. Small, family run businesses with character, friendliness and diversity languish and close in the pretty town square. Our grocery store went out of business too. Now everyone dresses alike, has the same annuals in their gardens, eat the same stale fruit, while kids ride identical bicycles and wear the same cheap sneakers. There is no more variety. Only convenience. How sad.



6/5/01
Bert Ully
An interesting point made in Store Wars was regarding medical benefits. If Walmart fulfills its plans to build another thousand plus stores, a lot of people will work for Walmart and be in need of benefits. When denied benefits, medical or otherwise, at a reasonable rate, they will no doubt join or form a union to fight for benefits. And I am not certain that unions are altogether dead in the United States.



6/4/01
Fred Kent
Working in over a thousand communities accross the country we have found that the best way to combat sprawl is to create places in our communities that draw people. Unfortunetly, we've neglected the special places that bring people together and give them a sense of belonging and commonality. These places - like parks, central squares, main streets and downtowns - help fuel community livability.

In combating sprawl, one of the most important things we can do is reclaim our existing communities and rejuvenate these crucial public environments. By retrieving their basic people-friendly infrastructure, restoring their walkability and attractiveness and promoting living/working/playing activities all mixed together, we can create communities where people will want to be, instead of sprawling out to seek what really aren't 'greener pastures' at all.

To learn more about what we at Project for Public Spaces have learned and our unique approach to creating places, see our website www.pps.org



6/4/01
marilyn Goode
I live near the town of Sonoma in the Sonoma Valley where our open space is being threatened by abandoning our town centered older hospital for a huge sprawling facility on 20 or more acres. This is because the HMO involved will only go along as a partner if they are allowed to have one stop shopping for the hospital just as the malls are considered one stop shopping for material items. The hospitals have been taken over by developers and bussiness folks. No longer is the medical model a vocation. Do others have any ideas on what to do to keep our local hospital?



6/4/01
Ken Cothran
I am fascinated by the story, in light of the fact that we in Clemson SC are having the same problem. There is a Wal-Mart within 8 miles of Clemson (in Seneca). The town of Clemson has actively opposed the proposed store in Clemson. Wal-Mart received county approval to put a store in a residential area, but has been unable to get the city to rezone some land needed for an entrance. The company has used the courts, intimidating legal maneuvers, and heavy lobbying to try to force the store on us. Now, they are actually doing ground preperation even though there are ongoing legal proceedings to determine if they can. It seems as if they will either get the store or leave us with an eyesore where a beautiful forest once stood. The result will be a sprawl strip where there is now country and residential areas, creation of another traffic bottleneck, and the loss of forests and wetlands.

Proponents here argue for convenience. I am amazed that the Seneca Wal-Mart, which is near-by and in an already economically raped strip development, is not convenient enough. As they say in counseling circles, this is a power trip by Wal-Mart.



6/4/01
Michael Frazier
I generally am a big-time supporter of Wal-Mart, and I just completed a long(2400 miles each direction) highway trip in which I eagerly visited many, many SuperCenters and other Wal-Marts. Two concerns though that I do foresee:

1. The practice of displaying a competing grocery store ad right at the cash register may constitute predatory pricing and it may go beyond the law. It may be that the competing grocery store has a right not to have its (copyrighted?) advertisement not used for display at Wal-Mart. In general one does have to worry about whether Wal-Mart will become less responsible once it dominates certain markets! So far though I've seen them behave very responsibly; they've been an asset to the public.

2. Wal-Mart is engaging in real estate profiteering. I noticed outside the Laramie WY SuperCenter that Wal-Mart seeks to make real estate gains from the land surrounding that SuperCenter. The formula in other words is that Wal-Mart puts in a Center somewhere that it can buy up all the surrounding land and then waits to pull in real estate profits from other businesses that want to locate their own businesses near the inevitable volume of customers coming to the Wal-Mart SuperCenter.



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