Johnny Cash may have sung about being stuck in Folsom prison, but residents in this California community don’t want to be stuck inside the walls of a retail giant. A group called the Concerned Citizens of Folsom has organized to stop a proposed 208,412 s.f. Wal-Mart supercenter off of Iron Point Road. That one store would be the size of four football fields. The company already has an existing Wal-Mart discount store in the city, which it is also trying to expand. Folsom resident Laura Blake told the Folsom Telegraph, “In talking to my neighbors, a lot of them are concerned but no one knows what to do. Neither do I. We’re just trying to work with our city. Our city officials are elected by us so they should do what is best for the community, not what’s best for them or what will bring in the most money. The fact that we’ll have two Wal-Marts in this small community, that’s too much. We’re a very small community compared to neighboring communities.” A Wal-Mart spokesman tried to skirt zoning issues by talking up the company’s lower prices and philanthropy — both of which have nothing to do with whether the Folsom trade area can support this new glut of retail capacity. Wal-Mart says it donated $41,000 to the city, including funds for the local police department. Given the fact that Wal-Mart stores have been categorized as a magnet for crime, Wal-Mart might consider spending more money on its own internal security instead of relying on the city’s police department. Residents in Folsom say they are concerned about rising crime and traffic that comes in the wake of a Wal-Mart. For the Concerned Citizens, one Wal-Mart in Folsom is one more than enough.
Wal-Mart announced an aggressive push into California with the goal of building 40 new supercenters. But at almost every turn, local residents have challenged the retailer, either killing their proposals outright, or throwing them into serious delay. Anti Wal-Mart sentiment has spread across California like a brush fire, jumping from community to community. In Folsom, it is likely that the project will have to undergo a state environmental quality review process, which gives opponents a chance to research the adverse impacts that Wal-Mart’s experts will never talk about. The fact is, there is no market need for another Wal-Mart in Folsom, and its arrival will not add jobs or sales tax revenues, because the store’s presence will largely displace existing economic activity at other area retailers. As those other retailers die off, consumers in Folsom will find themselves stuck in Wal-Mart prison. As the competition withers, Wal-Mart’s everyday low prices don’t have to be as competitive anymore. To contact the Concerned Citizens of Folsom, e-mail [email protected] or write P.O. Box 6204 Folsom, CA 95763.