Taos, New Mexico already has a Wal-Mart discount store. But in 1999, the company tried to get the community to go along with a supercenter. Instead, Taos passed a zoning ordinance that placed a limit on the size of stores. The supercenter never happened. Three years later, Wal-Mart is back, and this time the battle has overtones of racism, as proponents of the Wal-Mart tend to be hispanic, while opponents tend to be white. Or at least, that’s the spin being put on the battle. Ironic, of course, that Wal-Mart is controlled by a very wealthy board of white men, and the company does business with maquiladora factories along the Mexican border to secure their cheap imported goods. So much for exploiting race relations as an issue. On January 23rd, the Taos City Council will consider amending its zoning ordinance by removing the cap on building size. Here’s a report from the Taosenos who are fighting the project in Round Two: “Wal-Mart is threatening to destroy our beautiful Taos, New Mexico. 3 years ago we passed a Vision 20/20 plan to limit stores to 80,000 sq. ft. so as to keep out the big boxers, and we managed to keep Wal-Mart from building a New Super Center. Since Wal Mart opened here, 250 businesses have closed, that is 50%! They are spreading cash around like it is going out of style, but we have a group of committed community members, at least 200 that are leading the effort to keep the Super Center out. We have 6000 or so signatures, to Wal-Mart’s in-store petition drive, which has collected 7-8000 questionable, possibly out of towner, under 18, duplicates. Anyway, the town council is split on changing the laws we worked so hard to write, to allow for Wal Mart wishes to be followed. After stopping them 3 years ago, we now need to throw the existing Wal Mart out, and a boycott is in progress, with an announcement and petition to put the pressure??on, deprive Wal Mart of revenues and boost the revenues of local small businesses. Things most likely inspired by your book. We did succeed once. But now they have worn out their welcome and the existing store should move on, as they have lost any gains they’ve made in the last two-three years of the Bush/sprawl/lawless times we’re in. It is a fascinating thing to watch corporate America destroy anything that is good about this country, unabated, and with massive greed as the basis for all decisions. “
If Wal-Mart gets a supercentere in Taos, then Taos gets a dead Wal-Mart discount store to add to the list of existing “dark stores” that Wal-Mart has left behind. As of February, 2002, Wal-Mart had 7 empty stores on the market in New Mexico, with 6 out of 7 having been on the available list for at least three years. More than 400,000 s.f. of empty space. That’s a lot of wasted real estate, even in the land of enchantment.