According to the July 24th.issue of the Janesville, Wisconsin Gazette, public officials in Delavan, Wisconsin are worried about the impact a Wal-Mart Supercenter might have on their small community. Several members of the town’s Plan Commission want to gather more information on a proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter before they take further action on a preliminary site plan. One commissioner asked to hear from Wal-Mart in person about their plans to build similar stores in Lake Geneva and Burlington. Residents in nearby Lake Geneva have been fighting Wal-Mart for over a year now. “Are they going to put three Wal-Mart Supercenters in a 20-mile radius?” the Commissioner innocently asked. (Sam Walton boasted in his autobiography that he built 40 stores within 100 square miles of Springfield, Missouri). The Plan Commissioners delayed approval for the preliminary site plan and agreed to make a decision on it within the next few months. A developer called Household Commercial Financial Services of Prospect Heights, Il. has proposed the shopping center, to be called Delavan Crossings on 50 acres of land it owns on the east side of Delavan. In addition to a Wal-Mart, there would be a Kohl’s Department Store and other smaller businesses. Back in March, the Plan Commission recommended that the city council rezone the 50 acres on Highway 50 from rural holding to business regional, paving the way for companies like Sprawl-Mart. The City Council agreed to rezone in April. The Gazette noted that at all the hearings so far, many people turned out, and said they opposed the proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter, and urged the plan commission to slow down the approval process. One resident asked whether city officials would consider holding a referendum so city residents could vote on whether they wanted the proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter. “That’s a consideration,” Mayor Ron Henriott said. “I would have to take that to the city council.” When asked by residents how the big store would affect existing businesses, the Mayor said he didn’t know. “This issue has been on the table for two years,” he said. “I have some concerns about what’s happening. It’s certainly not the intent to put anyone out of business.”
Why doesn’t the Mayor of Delavan have a good answer about the impact of Wal-Mart on the local economy and on local revenues? You’d have to live in a deep cave not to see the impact of superstore saturation on local and regional businesses. Yes, Wal-Mart is capable of building 3 stores within a few miles of one another. “We became our own competition,” Sam Walton wrote. You read about towns like Delavan, where the citizens show up to raise concerns about Wal-Mart saturation, and their elected officials have no answers. Research shows that the more tightly packed these superstores are, the more destruction they cause to existing businesses. Do people think chains like Montgomery Wards died because they got too old? For more information on how the saturation strategy works, order “Slam Dunking Wal-Mart: How You Can Stop Superstore Sprawl in Your Hometown”, by calling toll free 1-877-DUNK WAL. Send a copy to the Mayor of Delavan.