Residents in Cushing, Oklahoma have been left out of the loop regarding the proposal to build a Wal-Mart supercenter, which surely means the existing Wal-Mart discount store in town will close. Here’s a front line report from members of the Cushing First committee: “On Tuesday, April 11th, the Cushing Municipal Authority/City Commission met to take action on the sale of 25 acres to Wal-Mart. After much debate and protest, they decided to table the action until Friday, April 21st. The city leaders are blinded by the Wal-Mart promise of increased sales tax and new jobs. They refuse to listen to facts
and studies that prove otherwise. Attempts are now being made to table this once again for more study and discovery. Barring any legal roadblock, this vote will take place on Friday. This action was kept highly secret until the open meeting notice was posted, preventing any organized effort to thwart it. Beware of your city officials who listen only to the Wal-Mart propaganda and threats that they will move to another town.”
What does Cushing reap from this plan? First, a dead Wal-Mart discount store that could stay empty for years, just like the 310 other “dark stores” that Wal-Mart Realty is trying to unload today. Second, they will weaken the sales base of existing grocery stores in Cushing, because the only new feature of the larger Wal-Mart will be groceries. Oklahoma already has a significant number of dead Wal-Mart stores, and Cushing doesn’t need to be added to the list. Flat population growth in Cushing ensures that this is not a form of economic development, but a zero sum game instead, in which the new entrants survive by capturing sales from the existing merchants. Under this scenario, public officials in the city can hardly claim to call this economic development.