Sunday, July 02, 2006

Loving WalMart

According to Scott Rasmussen, the large majority of Americans love Walmart. In a study whose results were released last week, we see just how much so:

Sixty-nine percent (69%) of Americans have a favorable opinion of Walmart, including 29% who have a very favorable opinion of the retail giant. A Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,000 adults found that 29% have an unfavorable opinion of the firm. Lower and middle income Americans are more likely to have a favorable opinion of Walmart than upper income Americans.

The reviews are even better among those who have worked for Walmart (or have family members who have been employed by the firm). Among these workers, 79% have a favorable opinion of the company.

Forty-two percent (42%) of all Americans say they shop at Walmart at least once a month. This includes 7% who visit at least once a week. Not surprisingly, Walmart shoppers have a much higher opinion of the store than those who rarely or never shop there.

Twenty-five percent (25%) of Americans say they rarely or never shop at Walmart. Among these adults, just 35% have a favorable opinion of the company.

Meanwhile, it seems that only special-interests and city council's are some of the only folk around that don't want to see Walmart coming to town. Following in the footsteps of Hercules in Northern California, the sleepy hamlet of Atascadero here on the Central Coast is doing what it can to keep a Super Walmart from coming into town:

People in Atascadero will not get to vote on whether the city opens the first Wal-Mart SuperCenter on the Central Coast.

The City Council decided Tuesday night not to put the issue on the November ballot.
The city is considering re-zoning the land at Del Rio and El Camino Real.

Now, the council will decide if the town gets the new Wal-Mart.

What was once an issue important enough for a voter referendum has now been taken back by the City Council. Since we all know that municipal governments always have the best interests of the citizenry at heart, we can only assume that the fine people of Atascadero have no interest in seeing quality goods for lower prices made more readily available to them.

Or is the City Council--for some inexplicable reason--afraid of the 69% (and the truckload of sales tax revenue they bring with them)?

Local reporting on last week's council meeting indicates that the answer is, perhaps, no:

While the council approved placing the sales tax increase measure on the ballot, it did not decide to agendize a possible measure regarding The Annex development on the corner of Del Rio Road and El Camino Real. Pacas had the issue agendized to give the council the opportunity to discuss it issue as several community members and council members had expressed putting the item to the voters.

“This is a way of finding out what they support,” Pacas said.“When I first heard about it, I was really excited,” Clay added. “I feel strongly the community would support it, but I don’t think we have enough information now. I think it’s a little premature.”

The Annex developers, The Rottman Group, agreed.“We’re in agreement,” The Rottman Group Senior Vice President Maury Froman said. “We would like to see the normal process [go forward].”

While many people feel strongly about whether or not a Wal-Mart should be built in Atascadero, Mayor Tom O’Malley reiterated that the council cannot determine whether or not a certain business comes to the city.

“We will never vote on Wal-Mart — we don’t vote on business,” O’Malley said.

So we shall see I guess how this plays out. In the meantime it would be nice to find the City Council on the record somewhere as to there position vis-a-vis Walmart occupying that spot as a retail anchor.

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