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2007-08-11
Lancaster, MA. Why Donít Wal-Mart Execs Live Near Superstores?

A local residents' group in Lancaster, Massachusetts that has been battling Wal-Mart for more than a year, is asking why Wal-Mart executives don't live anywhere near the 24 hour supercenters they push onto others? Area residents upset by the prospect of a huge, 24 hour retail supercenter on Old Union Turnpike in Lancaster, applauded town selectmen recently for agreeing to ask Wal-Mart to place an evening curfew on the proposed store -- but called Wal-Mart's immediate rejection of the idea "corporate hypocrisy as big as their superstores." They say Wal-Mart officials don't live with Wal-Marts in their backyard. "Wal-Mart has a double-standard," explained Our Lancaster First member Paul Bermingham. "Their executives don't live with 24 hour superstores on their block -- but they want us to." Bermingham was reacting to comments made to the media by Christopher N. Buchanan, senior manager of public affairs for Wal-Mart. "Wal-Mart will not agree to limit store hours," Buchanan was quoted as saying in the local media. "A 24-hour Wal-Mart will be continuously monitored by cameras and on-site managerial staff during day and night hours of operation. The parking lot is very closely monitored for any undesirable activity and with the store always open, there will be someone to handle any event that may occur." The citizen's group responded, "Mr. Buchanan doesn't have a Wal-Mart in his backyard, and we don't want one in ours," Bermingham said. According to Bermingham, Wal-Mart Exec Buchanan lives comfortably in a $500,000 home in Plymouth, Massachusetts that he purchased in 2006, in an area near a pond, well-protected and buffered from Wal-Mart. "Here's this public relations executive from Wal-Mart living in a home that he bought last year, just off a pond -- and he's telling us WE have to live near a store that needs crime cameras going all night? If it's such a good thing, why didn't Mr. Buchanan want to live near one? Would he exchange his secluded, upscale home for a home along White Pond where we live, that will have Wal-Mart's lights and loading docks as a vista?" "The executives at Wal-Mart can dish it out," Bermingham noted, "but they can't take it themselves. THEY don't live near their giant abominations. To them, a 24 store is fine as long as it's 'closely monitored.' Mr. Buchanan doesn't want to live near the glare and the noise and the crime -- -- but he's willing to sacrifice our home values to earn his paycheck. It takes a lot of arrogance and a lot of money to tell neighbors to live with this superstore -- when they wouldn't want one where they live."

What you can do: Bermingham said the group Our Lancaster First will continue to pressure the Lancaster Selectmen to make a curfew at Wal-Mart a condition of any final building permit -- regardless of Wal-Mart's lack of sensitivity to their neighbors. "We want to talk to Wal-Mart's top officials on this," Bermingham said. "We've heard from their public relations guy -- now we want to hear from the managers directly." None of Wal-Mart's major executives or Board members live near their creations. Helen Walton didn't. Rob, Jim and Alice Walton don't. Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott, and before him, David Glass, don't have a supercenter in their backyard. Supercenters are bad neighbors, and by themselves are a form of "undesireable activity." Wal-Mart officials -- and many other Americans -- are happy to shop at a supercenter -- but they sure don't want to live near one. As a Louisiana activist once told Sprawl-Busters, "If you're lovin' Wal-Mart, it's because you ain't livin' with Wal-Mart."










 
 
"Norman has become the guru of the anti-Wal-Mart movement" ~ 60 Minutes

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