Now you see it, now you don’t. Wal-Mart has perfected the art of playing one community off of its neighbors (see the Lake Placid entry below). The latest unhappy victim: the city of Hoover, AL. Wal-Mart is already present in this community. They have an anchor store at the Plaza at Riverchase. A couple of dozen smaller stores “wrap around” Wal-Mart at that location, according to the Birmingham News. The city’s Finance Director is quoted as saying “It would be bad to lose the anchor store of that shopping center.” On October 12th, the Hoover Planning & Zoning Board on a 7-1 vote turned down Wal-Mart’s request to rezone agricultural land to commercial to open the door for a larger supercenter on Alabama Route 150, near the upscale housing developments of Trace Crossings and Cahaba River Estates. More than 100 residents cheered when the P&Z board shot Wal-Mart down. Despite that vote, Wal-Mart has asked to “restate” its case to the City Council, which has the final say. City officials say they are worried that if they don’t take the new superstore, that Wal-Mart will find a location outside of the city, and close its store at Riverchase. The truth is, whether Wal-Mart builds on Route 150 or not, the store at Riverchase is history, and the damage to the other merchants is going to occur. It will happen either way: If land is rezoned for Wal-Mart on Rt. 150, then the Riverchase Plaza suffers major losses in sales and property taxes. If the store goes somewhere other than Rt. 150, the Riverchase stores are also in bad shape, because the “old” Wal-Mart store is likely to close either way. Residents lose big time if Wal-Mart builds near their homes, and the city gains nothing from getting a larger Wal-Mart, since its new trade is comprised of adding another grocery store to the existing mix of such stores. Wal-Mart gets larger market share, Hoover gets little, or nothing in return. Wal-Mart stores are like chess pieces that are moved around to suit the company’s best financial advantage. City bordes and tax collections are not their problem.
To oppose Wal-Mart’s redundant effort to grab more agricultural land and provide nothing but a bigger store with wider aisles, go to The Birmingham (AL) News website, and email a letter to the editor to the local newspaper.