Regina Discenza is collecting lawsuits against big box retailers. Although they don’t come with bulk discounts, Discenza isn’t letting any of these stores slip into her community of Lacey, New Jersey without a fair fight. A proposal for a Wal-Mart on the historic Good Luck Farm has been challenged by the Concerned Citizens of Lacey, the same group that filed a suit against a Home Depot in the same town. One of the issues raised by the Citizens is the fact that no economic impact study was done that would have assessed the impact of the Wal-Mart project on existing business and taxes. Wal-Mart told the Ocean County Observer newspaper that the giant retailer can be good for the local economy. “There have been studies done that a Wal-Mart in the area actually has the opposite effect,” a company spokesperson explained. She suggested that other businesses simply need to find some niche. “Any business needs to find its niche,” said Mia Masten, “whether it’s additional customer service or a specialty.” The lawsuit also charges that the Lacey Planning Board did not include proper parking spaces for the plan, and that the approval did not properly protect neighbors from noise, stormwater runoff, or provide sufficient buffering from the huge, 157,000 s.f. building.
I love when these young Wal-Mart spokespersons start telling local business people what they need to do to survive and thrive in the shadow of a Wal-Mart. You just know these company people have never owned a business in their life — much less had to ‘compete’ with one on an unlevel playing field. If all you needed to do was find a niche, KB Toys would not be on the verge of destruction, or Montgomery Wards, Ames, Richs, FAO Schwartz, Caldors, Kmart, etc. When regional and national chain stores are littered along the highway, it’s hard to argue that Wal-Mart has had a salutory effect on small business. Dozens of credible studies say just the opposite. “At Wal-Mart we make dust,” said Wal-Mart executive Tom Coughlin. “Our competitors eat dust.” For more information on this story, search Newsflash by “Lacey.” To offer your financial help to Regina Discenza and the Concerned Citizens of Lacey, email her at [email protected]