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2008-01-26
Bellevue, WI. Open A Supercenter, Close A Discount Store.

The small community of Bellevue, Wisconsin has to make a big decision. This village of roughly 14,600 people just south of Green Bay, has had a Wal-Mart supercenter thrown in its lap. The village, whose motto is "A Great Place To Grow," has to decide if growth means putting a Wal-Mart supercenter in its new business park. Elsewhere in Wisconsin, in places like Spooner and Stoughton, Wal-Mart stores have either been killed or put on hold this year. But now its Bellevue's turn to enter the Wal-Mart Wars. This battle has nothing to do with market need, because there are 3 Wal-Mart's within 10 miles of Bellevue. There is a discount store and a superstore in Green Bay, and a second supercenter in De Pere. But according to the Green Bay Press-Gazette, the village board in Bellevue plans to make a decision within the next few weeks up or down on the Wal-Mart project. No independent traffic studies, no economic impact studies. The village will hold a public hearing on February 13th. This week, local residents jammed into the Village board room to express their concern and dismay over the proposed store. Every single resident who testified on the plan, opposed it. The litany of concerns was typical. They ranged from lost property values, to low wage jobs, to impact on the rest of the business community. "I'm proud of the community that I live in," the Press-Gazette quoted one resident as saying. "I'm proud of utilizing our businesses. I'll be very disappointed if this goes through." Some residents told Wal-Mart that instead of building a new superstore, they should go back and renovate their existing discount store on Main Street in Green Bay, which is roughly 3.5 miles from Bellevue. Although Wal-Mart denied it, the Green Bay discount store is a sure bet for closure if the superstore is opened. Wal-Mart currently has 6 "dark stores" available or lease or sale in Wisconsin, for a total of 439,794 square feet of empty store space in Wisconsin.Village President Craig Beyl told the Press-Gazette that its going to be a tough decision for his small community. "The more feedback, the better the decision we can make," he said. "We have three weeks to study it. We have a proposed vote Feb. 13, so we'll see what they will do about these problems."

What you can do: Bellevue gets no added value from this saturation of Wal-Mart supercenters. The retailer is not going to keep their discount store in Green Bay open with a supercenter less than four miles away. So all this proposal represents is Wal-Mart once again shutting down a discount store to open up a more profitable superstore. But because there already are two supercenters within minutes of this location, the Bellevue proposal is a missile aimed directly at existing grocery stores, and other retailers, like Target, in the area. Open one, and close one. That's the mantra at Wal-Mart -- even as they have moved to put dozens of their existing projects on hold across Wisconsin and the nation. It is hard to see how adding another supercenter to this mix helps Bellevue or Wal-Mart shareholders. But Village Board President Craig Beyl said he wants feedback. So readers are urged to call President Beyl at (920) 465-6872 with the following message: "Your village may be a great place to grow -- but not if you let Wal-Mart grow in your business park. Don't rush to a decision without independent traffic and environmental reports. What they sell, you already have. Two supercenters within 10 miles of this project. All this proposal will do is cause the closure of their discount store on Main Street in Green Bay. What you will get is higher crime, increased traffic, and other empty storefronts. You are putting your economic future in the hands of an out-of-state company that arrives with its bags already packed. Ask folks in Green Bay how they will react to seeing their store on Main Street go dark. One of the main goals of your zoning code is 'to maintain the aesthetic appearances and scenic values of the Village; to prevent the overcrowding of land.' This project will have a dramatic impact on the aesthetic character of your village. I urge you to vote down the supercenter project."











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

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