Green Bay, WI. Wal-Mart Gets Chilly Reception For Third Superstore
Shoppers in Green Bay, Wisconsin who are addicted to cheap Chinese imports don't have far to go to blow their paycheck. There are two Wal-Mart supercenters in Green Bay---one on Main Street, the second on West Mason. No wonder,then, that as soon as Wal-Mart announced that it wanted to build a 3rd superstore of 150,000 s.f. in the downtown Broadway District, the big store drew big opposition.
According to WBAY news in Green Bay, not only has a citizen's group begun a Facebook page and a petition, the Mayor of Green Bay, Jim Schmitt, has come out against the big box project.
One member of the Common Council told ABC News: "I stand behind the citizens, and if Wal-Mart overcomes all the opposition and the citizens go along with it, then naturally, I represent the citizens' will." Hardly an enthusiastic endorsement.
The bad news has been out less than a week. Wal-Mart has confirmed that it wants to tear down the Larsen cannery building, to erect its superstore. For Green Bay, the move symbolizes the exodus of manufacturing jobs, and replacement with poverty wage employment.
Wal-Mart knows it has an uphill battle on its hands---because a third superstore is not needed--and the latest proposal is all about market share for Wal-Mart, not about market need. To try to convince the natives that they need more Chinese products, Wal-Mart is holding an "open forum" on September 24th. Wal-Mart told ABC news it wants feedback from the public before presenting a formal proposal to the city.
In a prepared ststement Wal-Mart said it would "welcome the community to share their feedback with us so that we can plan a store that best meets the needs of our customers and has a lasting, positive impact on the community."
But Wal-Mart will not like the feedback its going to get from residents who don't want another Wal-Mart superstore. Anti-Wal-Mart activist Lisa Anderson in Green Bay sent Sprawl-Busters the following field report of how the battle is shaping up:
"The Broadway District in Green Bay is idyllic, with the Fox River flowing through the city, literally dividing the east and west side. Broadway District has risen from the ashes in the last couple of years. It's filled with eclectic shops including, but not limited to, arts & crafts, technology, photographer, coffeehouse, restaurants and the list goes on and on. The company that has been helping the Broadway District become what it is today is OBI, On Broadway Inc.
Three weeks ago the City of Green Bay and surrounding communities were informed that there were negotiations between OBI, Larsen Cannery and Wal-Mart for the retailer to purchase a piece of property in the downtown Broadway District. This historic building has sat empty for several years and everyone agrees that something does need to be done with it. However, putting a Wal-Mart Super Center or any big box store is not what is needed for this eclectic area.
With Wal-Mart's announcement, Eric Gabrielson, created a Facebook page "No Wal-Mart on Broadway". "The purpose of this group is to organize opposition to the proposed Wal-Mart on the north end of the Larsen Cannery site on N. Broadway," the site says. The group states that having a big box store there, in any shape, size or form will not be beneficial to the community. Between the cost TO the taxpayers to police the area, road maintenance (because a lot of work will need to be done to get it even up to par for that amount of traffic) and the cost of the small businesses eventually going out of business, is just too high.
"No Wal-Mart on Broadway" currently has over 1,500 members. There's a small committee that oversees this grassroots effort. They have organized a petition drive that started earlier this week. No Wal-Mart on Broadway has adopted a logo "B Local" with a tagline of "Because the issue is Bigger than Broadway". They created a page on Facebook under "B Local" that went live on Thursday, September 19th. This is a location where information will come in and people can donate via PayPal.
They are also in the process of getting fundraising started which will help cover the cost of an attorney, supplies, etc. Members are trying to get on the agenda with the city council for next month so the group can again state their concerns, but this time to the very people that will approve or deny the sale of this property to Wal-Mart.
The members of "No Wal-Mart on Broadway" do have the mayor on their side as he has told the Wal-Mart Corporation he is not in favor of them coming to the downtown area. But the group needs people to help them stop Wal-Mart from moving into the Green Bay downtown area.
Donations will be accepted in the form of cash, check or money order. You can mail that to B Local, PO Box 22193, Green Bay, WI 54305-2193. Don't forget to check out our Facebook pages "No Wal-Mart on Broadway" and "B Local". Our follow them on Twitter at #Blocal.
What you can do: Readers are urged to call Mayor Schmitt at 920-448-3005 with the following message:
"Dear Mayor Schmitt,
You've been Mayor of Green Bay now for a decade. In that time, you seen lots of change in our city, good and not so good. Wal-Mart latest plan for the Broadway District is falls into the category of "not so good."
Any industrial use of the Larsen property would be a far better use of the land--or a mixed use project that used all or part of the cannery building, including housing. Retail is one of the lowest uses of that land. It generates low wage jobs--and most of the jobs are from sales transferred from existing businesses already in the city.
There is clearly no need for a third Wal-Mart superstore. This company is the poster child of retailers who have forced manufactures to shift their production factories to Asia, India, or Bangladesh. Instead of decnt paying jobs, we are left with Walton jobs that pay poverty wages, no pension and health care through the Medicaid program.
It's time for Green Bay to say 'No' to this kind of economic displacement. This store will be out of character with the rest of the Broadway District. It's important for you, as the city's top official, to tell Wal-Mart that Green Bay can do better.
Please encourage Wal-Mart to walk away from Green Bay, and avoid an ugly battle for the city."