Monday, December 04, 2006

The usual stuff

While the retailer themselves is saying it isn't even much more than a pipe dream, we're already getting some of the usual rhetoric from most of the usual suspects:

The group, Central Coast Wal-Mart Watch, consists of Robert Cuthbert and a number of other residents concerned that the super center will hurt small businesses in the area and eventually be a poor economical choice for Lompoc.

Cuthbert, who recently lost a race for State Assembly, handed out a list of successful strategies that have helped across the country, including the following:

1)Educate consumers that Wal-Mart's “cheap goods” are products of grossly exploited labor from overseas, including child labor, underpaid workers, prisoner labor and slave labor in China.

2)Bring in small business owners whose livelihood is threatened by an uncaring international corporation.

3)Inform local officials that the Wal-Marts of the world only bring short-term tax windfalls, and then later mean a real economic decline.

4)Educate and ask that local labor leaders participate in our efforts.

5)Approach the city regarding city ordinances that limit the floor space of “big box” stores. A similar ordinance helped prevent Wal-Mart from putting a super center in Santa Maria last year.

Meanwhile, whats actually happening? Here's where things actually stand between the store and the city as of today:

City officials and a Wal-Mart representative agree that the giant discount chain's interest in Lompoc is in a preliminary “talking” stage.

They also agree that there will be a lot of talking before anything happens. And the talking will extend beyond the doors of Wal-Mart and of City Hall. The community will have its say.

“There are a lot of discussions that have to be had by community officials, organizations and company officials,” said Wal-Mart spokesman Kevin McCall, a senior manager of public affairs based in Los Angeles.

In a telephone interview last week, McCall said it would take several years to work through the city's development process. Wal-Mart has no timetable for its plans and hasn't filed an application - the first official step - and McCall couldn't say when that might happen.

That said, Wal-Mart is seriously interested in Lompoc, he added.

So while CCWMW is all fired up and ready to go, Wal-Mart has barely begun to get the ball rolling. The real story is not the when, or even the what:

Why?McCall's answer is brief, but to the point.

“Our store has been in Lompoc over 10 years. You hire people from within the community and you listen to your customers,” he said. “We have customers who have some limited shopping choices.”

This is a fight thats been going on in Atascadero for some time. The city there has been willing, to date anyway, to allow money that otherwise would stay inside the city limits to drive up to Paso Robles for spending at the Wal-Mart there.

Is Lompoc willing to continue seeing Lompoc dollars spent in Santa Maria, Santa Barbara and even San Luis Obispo as a result of the limited retail choices currently residing here in town?

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