Gonzales, LA. Small Local Grocery Owner Vows To Challenge Walmart
LeBlanc’s, a small local food chain in Gonzales, LA. is fighting a Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market proposed across the street. Owner Randy LeBlanc is upset over traffic impacts.
According to an article in Business Report, the owners of LeBlanc’s Food says the proposed Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market would be located directly across the street from LeBlanc’s location at the corner of Airline Highway and Duplessis Street in Gonzales. This community has a 2014 population of only 10,427 people.
In November of 2014, the Ascension Parish Board of Adjustments approved a zoning variance for the project. Randy LeBlanc admitted that the proposed Wal-Mart would represent a competitive threat to his location on Airline Highway, and says the project raises safety concerns because of increased traffic the Wal-Mart would bring to Airline Highway.
“There is a safety issue with the amount of traffic that would be on the road separating our properties,” LeBlanc told the Business Report. “There’s a brand new fire station there already, and with the amount of traffic Wal-Mart would bring, I think it could lead to a variety of safety issues.”
LeBlanc told the Business Report last winter: “We are looking at pursuing this as a legal matter.” Wal-Mart had to seek a variance for the property, and will have to do traffic and drainage studies.
The Business Report said that Wal-Mart has a purchase agreement for the land. Wal-Mart already has two superstores in Ascension Parish—one on Airline Highway in Gonzales, and a second location on the same road, Airline Highway, in Prairieville. It also has a superstore in another nearby town, Donaldsonville—which Sprawl-Busters visited roughly 20 years ago, at the invitation of Glen Falgoust, local business owner. Local opposition to the Donaldsonville store was part of a 60 Minutes show in 1995.
What you can do: A community the size of Gonzales is already saturated with grocery stores. By locating a Neighborhood Market, which is around 40,000 s.f., Wal-Mart is targeting LeBlanc’s to put it out of business.
Readers are urged to send an email to Ricky Compton, the head of the Parish Planning and Development Office, at firstname.lastname@example.org with the following message:
“Dear Planner Compton,
What on earth is Ascension Parish thinking? You don’t have the population base to flood your small community of Gonzales with retail grocery stores. Wal-Mart already has a superstore in Gonzales. A Neighborhood Market is just overkill.
This is like inviting a retail cannibal into town. No new jobs will be created, just a transfer of cash from existing merchants to Wal-Mart. This is not economic development, its economic dislocation. The fact that Ascension Pension would grant Wal-Mart a variance to eat up your local jobs just makes no economic sense at all. Stand by your home-grown business. The Walton billionaires are already sucking up enough of your local dollars."