Avondale, Arizona already has a Wal-Mart supercenter, but as in hundreds of other communities, the retailer is willing to cannibalize its existing stores to put in a second supercenter. Once again, the corporation is proposing a store with a “unique” facade to try to hide its big box impact. According to the Southwest Valley Republic newspaper, Wal-Mart is offering “windows, faux balconies, and paint colors such as cavern moss green,” for Avondale’s second Wal-Mart Supercenter. A company spokesman told the newspaper, “it’s not something that we’ve carbon-copied from our existing stores. It’s not going to be blue.” But the cavern moss Wal-Mart has many residents feeling black and blue from manhandling by the corporation. After all, the Avondale Boulevard location was supposed to be a “hub” for upscale development — not everyday low wages. All this has left Avondale Mayor Ron Drake with the need to do some fast talking to neighbors about why a discount superstore is compatible with an upscale corridor. The Mayor actually told residents that because the store would not face Avondale Boulevard, and would have a row of shops to block its view from the Boulevard, that it was acceptable. And, of course, the moss green upscale color helped too. “Avondale Boulevard is going to be special,” Hizzoner said. “We’re telling interested retailers that you just can’t put in a big box.” But apparently a big green box is fine. The Southwest Valley Republic described the proposal as having a “fancy-pants feel”, and noted that in Goodyear, Arizona, Wal-Mart offered a fa??ade with earth tones, stone archways and columns. But this “fancy pants” store has not placated some residents, who are vowing to organize against the store. One resident contacted Sprawl-Busters with the following message: “I came back from a vacation Saturday to learn the City of Avondale is getting ready to hear the case for a new Super Wal-Mart. The problem is, an existing Wal-Mart is 2 miles from the proposed location, a Sam’s Club is also 2 miles from that location, and another Wal-Mart is being built south of the I-10 on Estrella Parkway (3 miles from the original store). Thursday August 18th is the planning and zoning meeting and next month is the council meeting. The Wal-Mart people have told the City of Avondale that 2 stores can definitely coexist and that the second store in Avondale is needed because the current store is running at 140% capacity. But I think I figured out the true plan. Phoenix International Raceway is in Avondale and until now they have had 2 races per year. When I used to shop at Wal-Mart years ago I accidentally went to Wal-Mart during the weekend of a race. The place was packed and the parking lot was filled with cars, trailers, and mobile homes. This year they announced a third race was to be added to the schedule. So, Estrella Parkway and Avondale Boulevard are the roads advertised to be used by race fans to get to the raceway. The store at Estrella Parkway is under way and now Wal-Mart is proposing one on Avondale Boulevard. If this Wal-Mart goes in it will be the 9th Wal-Mart enterprise within a 5.7 mile radius. So I started this week by submitting a letter to the editor of our local paper. Tonight I submitted another one for the next edition with my theory on the new location.”
Will the residents of Avondale — already flooded with Wal-Marts — be fooled by a “fancy pants” facade? Wal-Mart is saturating Avondale to keep out the competition, and to grow its market share in the city. They are willing to cut into the sales per square foot at their existing stores, as long as overall market share rises. As Sam Walton explained, “we became our own competition.” Whatever color is offered, it will be a black mark on the community if more retail glut is added, and more existing merchants grow dark. Because there is no market need for this project in the first place, you can color this proposal wrong.