Sprawl-Busters Newsflash Blog - Anti-Sprawl news since 1998.
Subscribe to Sprawl-Busters Blog Follow Sprawl Busters on Twitter
Occupy Walmart & Order Al's Books Movies Newsflash! The Case Against Sprawl Home Towns Not Home Depot Victories Your Battles About Us Contact Us  

recent news

List articles
by the month:

2017
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2016
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2015
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2014
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2013
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2012
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2011
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2010
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2009
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2008
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2007
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2006
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2005
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2004
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2003
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2002
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2001
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2000
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

1999
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

1998
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC


Search database by text:

2009-02-03
Saint Martinville, LA. Mayor Wants To Use Empty Wal-Mart For Off-Track Betting

Some pretty innovative ideas have been proposed to deal with the proliferation of empty Wal-Mart stores in America -- but the Mayor of one small city in Louisiana is betting he's found a really creative reuse. On December 7, 2007, Wal-Mart announced that it was closing its discount store in Saint Martinville, Louisiana, forcing shoppers in this small city to travel to one of the 7 other Wal-Mart stores within 20 miles of Saint Martinville. They could go to the brand new Wal-Mart supercenter in Broussard, Louisiana, which is 7 miles away. Or, they could venture to the supercenter in New Iberia, Louisiana 10 miles away. Or, they could travel 13 miles to the Wal-Mart supercenter in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana. The truth is, the city of Saint Martinville, with a population just over 7,000 people, is not much more than a wide spot in the road for the giant Wal-Mart corporation. Their Saint Martinville store was choked off by a saturation of newer supercenters. Saint Martinville joined the long list of 'communities that Wal-Mart killed twice' -- once on the way in, and again on the way out. Although the citizens of Saint Martinville have every reason to feel abandoned by Wal-Mart, the shoppers of Saint Martinville will still flock to buy their cheap Chinese imports at the store that left them behind. According to KLFY TV 10, the Saint Martinville Wal-Mart is older and much smaller than the newer stores. But it generated about 20% of the city's sales tax base. City leaders said at the end of 2007 that they hoped adding some new stores in the city would help make up for the revenue loss. But that has not happened. Wal-Mart's manager in Saint Martinville told KLFY that their Highway 31 store would stay open until the Broussard supercenter was open. The Wal-Mart workers in the Saint Martinville store would be offered jobs at other locations. To some residents who know the history of this Wal-Mart store in Saint Martinville, the retailer's decision to leave the city may seem more than a little ungrateful. That's because this Wal-Mart on North Main Street, was opened in 1981 thanks to corporate welfare from Louisiana taxpayers. Wal-Mart was given a $3.725 million subsidy to open -- in the form of an industrial revenue bond. Wal-Mart is not an industrial enterprise, and it certainly did not need a public subsidy then, or now. On October 23, 2008, Wal-Mart issued a press release announcing the opening of the 184,000 s.f. supercenter in Broussard. Wal-Mart said the new superstore would "support the local economy through 300 new jobs, low prices and additional sales tax revenue for the Broussard community." They didn't mention the lost jobs and sales tax in nearby Saint Martinville. In Broussard, City Councilman Johnnie Foco was quoted in Wal-Mart's press release as saying, "We're excited about the new jobs Wal-Mart is creating. More jobs and increased sales tax revenue mean more police cars, more fire trucks, more city workers and more benefits for the city of Broussard." Broussard will need more fire trucks and police to service their huge superstore. In its press release, Wal-Mart tossed in a one-liner about the city that hosted its first store in the area for 27 years. "Wal-Mart entered the local community in 1982 when it opened at 2310 N. Main in St. Martinville." The company then added: "By relocating to Broussard as a Supercenter, the store adds more than 140,000 square feet and will feature new services and merchandise. The Broussard Store Manager, Chris Smith, was quoted in Wal-Mart's release as saying, "Many associates joined because they know they have the opportunity for a long-lasting career at Wal-Mart." Many of the "associates" in Saint Martinville who had to re-apply for their jobs at the Brousssard store, may have grown cynical about the idea of a "long-lasting" career at Wal-Mart -- especially since their store was closed out from under them. On November 24, 2008, Sprawl-Busters presented an update to this Saint Martinville story. According to the KLFY TV news, Wal-Mart shut its doors in September, "and residents are still getting adjusting to the vacancy... Wal-Mart's closing means the residents of the small Saint Martin Parish town have to venture all the way to Broussard to find a comparable retailer. Many residents say the inconvenience affects their daily routine. According to Mayor Thomas Nelson there were no current bids for any retail stores to fill the vacancy that Wal-Mart left. But this week, two and half months since our last report, KATC Channel 3 TV reports that business has picked up in Saint Martinville since Wal-Mart left. The station reports that local business owners call Wal-Mart's closing a blessing. "I'm excited about them not being here, cause we can pick up extra items, extra sales," said Robert Cade, owner of Cade's market on Main St. Cade described Wal-Mart's leaving as like a small weight lifted off his shoulders. "We have that personal touch with everybody with all our customers, so that's the things that we do here, that people won't leave town for," Cade added. "Anytime you have any competition, you don't wanna see them come in, it takes a little piece of your pie, you know, we'll fight for everything we can get!" Mayor Thomas Nelson reports that in the four and a half months since Wal-Mart has been gone, business at mom and pop stores, dollar stores, and local markets have picked up considerably. Even better, Hizzoner has come up with a re-use plan for the empty Wal-Mart store. "One of the things I'm concentrating on is the off-track betting with Evangeline Downs," the Mayor told KATC. The vacated 6.5 acres is now being transferred to the city. Wal-Mart's regional director and the Mayor have been working on having the building and land donated to the city for more than two years now. The Mayor claims that he's getting proposals for recycling the space. It may turn out that the Mayor was safer betting on horses than putting his money on Wal-Mart as a long-term neighbor.

What you can do: Several hundred years ago, the nearest village to the present-day city limits of Saint Martinville was an Attakapas Indian settlement, located further south on Bayou Teche. The Bayou Teche has a part in Chitimacha Indian folklore. Legend tells of a serpent of fabulous dimension living in the Atchafalaya Basin. While being slain by Indian braves, the serpent's writhing gorged out the Bayou Teche. "Teche" may be derived from the Chitimacha word for "snake", and some say the Great River will one day avenge the serpent. It turns out that Wal-Mart is the modern-day snake that came to the Bayou Teche. Mayor Thomas Nelson likes to boast of his city's "unique deep heritage." The city's motto is "Le Petit Paris d'Amerique." When visiting Saint Martinville, you can stroll by the statue of Evangeline, or through the Evangeline Oak Park. But don't bother to stop by the Wal-Mart store -- its dark inside now. Readers are urged to contact Saint Martinville Mayor Thomas Nelson at info@stmartinville.org with this message: "Mayor Nelson, I am pleased to hear that business in your small city is picking up since the departure of Wal-Mart. As you may know, Wal-Mart has shut down many of its discount stores in Louisiana. Ten years ago, Wal-Mart had 56 discount stores in your state, and 10 supercenters. Today, there are only 7 discount stores left in Louisiana, and 74 supercenters. You welcomed Wal-Mart into your Little Paris, and now they have left you with a giant hole, just to move 13 miles away. Wal-Mart has treated your city like the great snake in the Atchafalaya Basin. It has bitten your city, and now it is gone. It's time for Saint Martinville to make sure that no more national big box stores love you and leave you. Your city should pass a size cap on retail buildings to keep the big stores out. Let your local businesses return, let new entrepreneurs come to Saint Martinville, and replace the bad memories that Wal-Mart has left behind. You should also pass a demolition fee that requires any company that abandons a store for more than 12 consecutive months, to pay for the cost of demolishing their building, and restoring the site to its pre-development state. It's the least Wal-Mart can do for the community it abandoned. Off track betting? It's probably safer than pinning your economic hopes on a Wal-Mart."












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

info@sprawl-busters.com
Strategic Planning ~ Field Operations
Voter Campaigns 
21 Grinnell St, Greenfield ~ MA 01301
(413) 772-6289