Citizens in the village of Grafton, Wisconsin did a little retail research, and after visiting a Costco Warehouse Club, decided they wanted a Costco in their community — but not a Sam’s Club. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports this week that Costco may build its first club store in Wisconsin in Grafton, but Sam’s Club need not apply. Costco is looking at a 75 acre parcel of land in Grafton on Route I-43. A Costco spokesman said the retailer had other sites in mind for Wisconsin, but added, “We don’t talk about them until we have them firmed up.” Costco has 337 in the United States and Puerto Rico, but none in Wisconsin. Last February, Costco withdrew its plans to build a discount warehouse store on a 32-acre site near the southeast corner of I-43 and Highway 60. They decided the wetlands on the site made it unsuitable for a 137,000 s.f. store. James Brunnquell, Grafton’s village president, told developers specifically that the village did not want a Sam’s Club at the commercial complex. The village held several public hearings on the complex last fall, “and there was a market preference for a Costco over a Sam’s Club,” Brunnquell said Friday. “The village is looking for unique and new retail opportunities, not something that is repeated 15 minutes down the road,” Brunnquell said. Brunnquell said he visited a Costco warehouse store in Glenview, Ill., and “I immediately saw something that would be unique and different and a great addition to the village’s retail market.” A spokesman for Wal-Mart, said village officials did not give his company a fair chance to strut its stuff. “Our market survey studies, as well as the evaluation of our customer base, shows that we had a clear opportunity to be a successful entity in that community,” Wal-Mart said. The spokesman said Sam’s Club would just have to look for another site in Grafton. “This is an obstacle that is not insurmountable,” the company said.
Local opinion is never an obstacle for Wal-Mart. If the locals don’t want them, and prefer another company, they will still try to find a way to get into the town. This is in direct contradiction to founder Sam Walton’s pledge that “if some community, for whatever reason, does not want us in there, we won’t go in a create a fuss.” Pride is something that you apparently can’t buy at Sam’s Club.