Hundreds of angry residents in Plano, Texas were apparently enough to stimulate Wal-Mart to go back to the drawing board and scrap plans for a 113,000 s.f. supercenter on the corner of Hedgcoxe Road (see 12/17/99 newsflash below). Even Wal-Mart noticed the “passion and animosity” directed at their plans. So on January 14th, Wal-Mart’s PR company put out a press release entitled “Neighborhood Market Proposed for North Plano: Smaller Store to Replace Plans for Supercenter”. Instead of a superstore, Wal-Mart is now pitching a “Neighborhood Market” of 52,000 s.f., which, if you really must know, is larger than a football field. It’s hard to label a store of that size a “neighborhood” facility, since its market must so clearly be more than the local neighborhood. “Wal-Mart has decided that this corner is better suited to our Neighborhood Market concept,” the press release says. “This is an exciting new concept for Wal-Mart that will be a good fit for the community.” The Neighborhood Market will have groceries, with one-third of the store devoted to general discount merchandise. The release informs local residents that more info about the new store will be posted on their website, www.factweb.net. Then, in what appears to be “talking points” for Wal-Mart people, the PR firm developed a statement that Wal-Mart would say during a TV interview. Q: Is this the result of community pressure? A: No. It is the result of community input, which Wal-Mart solicited. Q: What if there is still opposition? A: Let’s wait till folks have had an opportunity to learn more about the changes before we start speculating on how they might react. Q: Is this a victory for Wal-Mart opponents? A: It’s a victory for Plano, because we were able to work together for the good of the community. Q: What changed Wal-Mart’s mind? A: Wal-Mart solicited neighborhood input, and listened to what people said. How’s that for Spin-Mart?
Here’s a more honest TV interview about what happened in Plano: Q. Is this the result of community pressure? A: Well we sure wouldn’t have abandoned a superstore on our own. Of course 500 angry people made a difference. We understand politics as well as anyone. Q: What if there is still opposition. A: We have more money than they do, and we’ll just have to try and outlast them. Q: Is this a victory for Wal-Mart opponents? A: Our policy is never to admit the other side is victorious. So, no, it is a victory for Plano. Q: What changed Wal-Mart’s mind? A: We were afraid the whole project was going down the tubes, so we pulled this ‘neigbhborhood market’ idea to try to keep something alive. It may not be what people asked for, but it’s a great fall-back position for us. We’ll say ‘we heard the people’s voice, and responded.’