Jason Rogers,the PARD webmaster wrote an unintentionally very funny letter to the editor of the Moscow-Pullman Daily News today. It shows the tunnel vision and lack of reasoning with which PARD members seem to be afflicted. The constant drumbeat as of late is "we need an economic impact study!"
Jason claims it is an assumption that the increased traffic will bring more business downtown and asks the question "How?" I guess one doesn't get many business classes majoring in Psychology, but it's pretty much a basic principle that the more potential customers you have, the more sales you will have. Facts he says? Look at Moscow. Have more stores been built around the Wal-Mart there, or less? Stores, in fact, that offer many of the same goods as Wal-Mart, such as office supplies and sporting goods. Go to Spokane and Lewiston and you will see the same thing. Here's my question to Jason: why? More facts: The existence of this company that exclusively builds strip malls around Wal-Mart Supercenters.
He claims that if "one store offers everything" no one will shop anywhere else. Ludicrous. Even more facts: a recent RetailForward study showed that only 34% of Wal-Mart customers purchased clothing there. Other studies show the same thing about many other types of products. Talk about assumptions. Jason makes a huge one assuming everyone will buy everything at one store. Where's the data to prove that? There isn't any. And no one could possibly do all their shopping downtown anyway. If so, why aren't people doing that now? Why are they going to Moscow, Lewsiton, and Spokane to shop? How does PARD propose to change that?
Here's another question to Jason: what would a "economic impact study" prove? And if one did say Wal-Mart was good for Pullman, would PARD fold up it's tents and go home? I doubt it. I am against the whole "economic impact study" because it is not required by the law. Did Pullman do an economic impact study when Starbucks opened three stores in Pullman to compete with the "mom-and-pop" Daily Grind? How about the opening of Duane "We Want to Salute" Brelsford's Pullman Village Centre Cinemas? If "economic impact" were a criteria for any business coming to town, we would only have one of any store, because competition is going to hurt somebody.
Here's some more questions for Jason: if downtown businesses are going to lose out so badly to Wal-Mart, why are they largely in support of it? Why is PARD made up almost exclusively of WSU faculty and students? Why aren't angry merchants writing letters to the editor instead of angry teaching assistants?
PARD's insistence on an economic impact is simply a delaying tactic, a red herring. At this point, that's all they have. PARD has no chance of winning and they know it.
"The cost to change the flow of traffic will be offset by the sales tax" is an assumption? Come on. Wal-Mart will generate millions in sales and other tax revenue over the years. That's an undeniable FACT. Does Jason know of some secret plan that Wal-Mart has to evade paying taxes? The road work around the Supercenter will not be anywhere near that expensive, and Wal-Mart is paying for much of it. He talks about facts, and yet all he proposes is wild assumptions. In fact, that has been what PARD's case has been all along; fantastic assumptions to try and induce fear in the population of this city.
I'm glad he has found the debate humorous and angering, because that's how I would describe my reaction to his calling me a "boob" on the PARD prototype website.