The small town of Thompson, NY (pop. 15,400) , nestled in the Sullivan County Catskills, describes itself as a “full service community in a rural setting.” Like every full service town in America, Thompson has a Wal-Mart — one that has drawn national attention — not in a good way.
According to Town Supervisor Anthony Cellini, “This town truly does have one of the most progressive voices in government, openly courting economic development enterprises to both broaden the local tax base and add necessary conveniences to the community. At the same time, we also take pride in requiring extensive environmental reviews for all proposals that cross our desks.”
One of the proposals that crossed the Supervisor’s desk was to build a Wal-Mart store in tiny Thompson. The proposal no doubt had “extensive environmental reviews,” but Wal-Mart was approved, and now Thompson is having to literally deal with the mess the retailer created. The sanitary conditions at the local Wal-Mart have gotten so bad, a columnist for the Times Herald-Record has urged residents to boycott the store.
According to a newspaper report on June 1st, the New York Department of Agriculture called Wal-Mart to a hearing on June 13th. in the state capitol of Albany to determine if the retailer should be forced to shut down part of its store while it deals with chronic sanitary problems. The store could face loss of its food processing license if the state believes the store is not meeting state sanitary standards.
Wal-Mart’s response to sanitary concerns has become another problem. The store has already flunked four state inspections over the past six months, and according to the Herald-Record,”has been cited repeatedly for critical violations that point to a rodent infestation.”
Inspectors found thousands of rodent droppings, damaged packages and spoiled food during repeated inspections. Several weeks ago, the state reported ten code violations, most of them of rat-related problems. The store handles food at its deli, bakery and produce areas. State officials have warned that if Wal-Mart doesn’t pass its 5th inspection, the store could be forced to close.
According to the Herald-Record the Thompson, NY Wal-Mart has gained national attention of an unwanted kind. An internet magazine called the Business Insider called the Thompson store the nation’s “most disgusting” Wal-Mart, and the Watershed Post quoted the Insider as claiming the state found “nine pounds of food to be rodent defiled with mouse droppings and gnaw marks.”
The Consumerist website added that state inspectors found that “mouse feces, urine and gnaw marks have appeared in many departments of the store, not just food. Section with anywhere from a few to a thousand mouse droppings include: candy, soda, snack foods, canned soup, cereal, beef, dairy, cake decorating, bread, pet food, feminine hygiene, baby needs, and produce sections.” The Consumerist adds: “and a bird trapped in the store crapped on a pizza and some bread while an inspector was present.”
In a June 10th. Column, a Herald-Record columnist railed against the store. “The Town of Thompson Walmart proved our point,” wrote Barry Lewis. “In about a dozen years, the place went from an economic juggernaut to a super-sized rodent-infested pigsty.”
“Remember the front-page picture in this newspaper?” Lewis asked readers. “More than 1,000 men and women lined up outside in the biting February cold, waiting to apply for $6.50-per-hour jobs as Sullivan struggled under a burden of 7.3 percent unemployment… We figured it was only time before other big-box stores followed. Yet Sullivan still struggles today. The April unemployment rate was 9.5 percent. Only one big box followed. And some of our main streets have more ‘for auction’ than ‘we’re open’ signs.”
“As for our super Walmart, it has become a local health hazard and an embarrassment. And it has become clear that the folks who run the world’s retail giant in Bentonville, Ark., couldn’t care less about the folks in Sullivan.”
Lewis notes that at the most recent inspection, “dead mice were found near the snack/chip aisle. Dozens of dead flies were on a fly catcher that was still hanging between a fryer and a food slicer… .How does Wal-Mart allow this to go on?”
Lewis does not want to wait for the outcome of the June 18th state hearing in Albany. “We don’t need a stinking hearing. We’ve seen enough. On Monday, Thompson officials should pull the store’s Certificate of Occupancy, citing a health risk to the public. Until then — don’t go in.”
Readers are urged to call the Thompson, New York Wal-Mart at (845) 796-7257 and ask for the bakery department. Ask them how much a large mouse pie would cost. Or perhaps four and twenty blackbirds is still available.
The small town of Thompson, NY (pop. 15,400), nestled in the Sullivan County Catskills, describes itself as a “full service community in a rural setting.” Like every full service town in America, Thompson has a Wal-Mart—one that has drawn national attention—not in a good way.