In our July 20, 1999 newsflash we described the battle in Ashland, VA to keep out a 179,000 s.f. Wal-Mart supercenter. Residents in Ashland adopted the “tacky” symbol of a plastic pink flamingo as the expression of their feeling toward a blank-walled superstore in town. The Ashland protest amounted to the largest flock of plastic birds in North America, and all that flapping of wings has blown Wal-Mart clear out of this community. Ashland’s own land use planning goals called for avoiding strip development, and maintaining a small town atmosphere, but that didn’t deter Wal-Mart or Richlands Ltd, the developer. But a 5-0 rejection by the Ashland Town Planning Commission in October was a clear enough message, even for Wal-Mart. After that vote, the developer notified the Town Council on the day it was slated to vote in mid-November that the proposal was being withdrawn. The headline on the ABC newswire read: Wal-Mart Plan nixed. But area residents are not taking any chances, knowing that Wal-Mart could decide to come back at this location, or another nearby. Local sprawl-busters have inquired about sources to order another phalanx of pink plastic birds, should it come to that.
Wal-Mart tucked its superstore plans under one wing, and flew out of Ashland. Another community flips the “bird” to Wal-Mart. Add Ashland to the long list of communities that have repulsed the giant company. The battle here lasted roughly six months.