Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Friday, January 05, 2007

"Make way for new stores"

From the December 9 edition of the Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
It appears several large retail chains are interested in the Moscow-Pullman area.

Palouse Mall property manager Jim Bendickson confirmed Friday that Old Navy and Bed, Bath and Beyond will soon open stores at the Moscow location.

He would not disclose any dates for the anticipated openings, but did say at least one of the retailers will move into the space currently occupied by Gottschalks.

The Fresno-based department store announced earlier this week that its Moscow location is going out of business in January.

Bendickson said the public can expect to hear sometime next week about the anticipated arrivals of the new stores.

“We are still in the process of putting that information together,” Bendickson said. “We’ll make an announcement when we’re ready.”

Several calls to the corporate offices of Old Navy and Bed, Bath and Beyond this week were not returned.

In Pullman, construction is underway for an Ace Hardware store at the Wheatland Center retail space previously occupied by Safeway.

The owners, Doug and Linda Henry of Henry’s Ace Hardware in Milton-Freewater, Ore., were not available for comment, but store manager Justin Schouten said the family is anticipating a mid-spring opening.

“That’s what we’re shooting for, anyway,” Schouten said Friday from his office in Milton-Freewater. “At this point, I don’t see how we could open the doors any sooner than that.”
I had previously reported way back in March that Old Navy would be coming to the Palouse Mall, only my sources indicated Michaels would be the location. Looks like its Gottschalks instead.

Old Navy, a store that sells hip clothing at a discount, will do a killer business in this area of two universities where the average age is in the 20s. The first few weeks the store is open will probably be standing room only. I've always said it was the one business the Palouse really needed. Too bad it has to be in Moscow.

With regards to a question that was asked of me on this blog by one of the owners of Ace Hardware linking its opening to Wal-Mart's, this was not based on any "inside" information. I simply stated that a study showed that stores in the building materials/home improvement line do 4% more business after 10 years of Wal-Mart's opening. Also, building materials/home improvement stores such as Home Depot and Lowe's actively jockey to get next to a Wal-Mart Supercenter. Homegrown Pullman Building Supply is getting in on the action. Why should national chain Ace Hardware be any different?


Nic said...

Did you even read the paper that you linked to about the Walmart study? If you are going to use that to support your pro-Walmart campaign you may want to throw in the towel right now... "In total, towns... lost nearly $2.46 billion during this 13-year period." Leads one to believe that maybe Walmart isn't as great as you're making it out to be, and if you actually read the paper maybe you would agree.

Next time, you may not want to link to the paper when you decide to cherry-pick information to "support" your cause.

Tom Forbes said...

Thanks Nic. I'm quite familiar with Dr. Stone's paper. It's basic conclusions have been thoroughly discredited by most economists. However, it did address specific businesses,which is why I "cherry-picked" as you put it.

Here are some other papers you may find educational (or not if you are not open-minded about Wal-Mart):





Feel free to come up the hill and discuss this with me anytime.

Tom Forbes said...

Oh, by the way, this is what Dr. Stone thinks of Wal-Mart opponents currently:

“All these malcontents, as I call them, I’m beginning to think of them as elitist. I don’t think they speak for the average person. The local people say, ‘We want them.’”

Nic said...

So, you linked to a paper that has been "thoroughly discredited" to illustrate a point? Forgive me if I am not following your logic.

Thanks for the other links though.

Tom Forbes said...

I said his CONCLUSIONS had been discredited, not the data itself.

Here is another, more recent study that Dr. Stone participated in:


One of the conclusions reached was: "There tends to be some synergism between a Wal-Mart supercenter and the “big box” home improvement stores. Thus, it is common to see a major home improvement store locate near an existing Wal- Mart supercenter."

And then there's the final conclusion:

"A local government that aggressively promotes commercial development, especially one that offers tax or other financial incentives to newcomers, may unwittingly help put smaller local merchants out of business because of massiv competition. Conversely, a local government that is strictly anti-growth may also do harm to its local merchants as residents leave the community to shop in towns with big new stores. It is, therefore, recommended that local officials educate the public on the economic impacts of commercial development and strive to create an economic development policy that is consistent with the
values and concerns of the local citizens."

As there are no smaller, local merchants that will be hurt by Wal-Mart in Pullman, only chain stores such as Rite Aid, Safeway and Dissmores, combined with the fact that we are seeing nearly 50% of our shopping dollars go over to Moscow as Stone mentions, that's why I support Wal-Mart versus "breaking down the free enterprise or capitalistic economic system in their communities" as proposed by PARD.

How about you, Nic?

Nic said...

So then, "In total, towns... lost nearly $2.46 billion during this 13-year period" would still be an accurate statement about the impact of Walmart on communities?

I'm guessing for every pro-Walmart study you post I could find an anti-Walmart study, so it really becomes a circular argument.

I'm not a supporter of Walmart, but I am a supporter of people taking initiative to shape their communities the way they see fit. To that extent, I would hope that you can understand that PARD is trying to shape the community the way they see fit, just like you are trying to shape the community the way you see fit: it just so happens that you vehemently disagree with each other. And here I am in the middle, supporting PARD out of respect for their activism and supporting you and your group out of respect for your activism, but struggling with every new issue because of the bitterness, distorted facts, and misleading information that I get flooded with and have to try and make sense of. I suppose I just don't understand why it has to be that way.

Tom Forbes said...

I appreciate the fact that you have an open mind on the issue.

I agree with you about the studies. Ultimately, however, every town and every situation is different. I don't support Wal-Mart. I support Pullman. We are demonstrably under-retailed and it is an indisputable fact that the community would benefit from increased tax revenue. I would support ANY store that wanted to locate here for that reason. Thus far, Wal-Mart is the only player to step up to the plate.

I could respect PARD's activism, as you do, if it was truly sincere. But it isn't. For example, they appeal Wal-Mart on the basis of economic impact and traffic, and yet publicly support Target and Costco, as if those stores would have no similar impact. That hypocrisy, in my opinion, shows their true agenda to be one of elitism and political ideology, not civic interest.

Racism is met with harshly, and so should elitism and snobbery. It's just as morally wrong.

Another, more fundamental, issue to many people is freedom. I may not like who moves in next door to me, but they have the right to do so. NO ONE can be singled out, no matter how unpopular they might be. Under the laws of Pullman, Wal-Mart has a right to open a store on Bishop Blvd. They have met every requirement and jumped through every hoop. PARD has had ample opportunity to make its objections heard and provide input. They were rejected in a fair and just process.

PARD is ultimately an unelected body. If they don't like the policy as it is now, they have the right to work to get it changed democratically. PARD did try to get some of their members elected to the City Council in 2005 and failed. It's time to move on.

The fact that they don't just proves that this has nothing to do with "grassroots activism," but is rather political theater involving national issues and players.

You're right. This issue is divisive and bitter. I hate it. I have been called every name in the book and it has made my family very uncomfortable. No one will be happier to see it go away than me. We must have resolution. Not everyone will like Wal-Mart coming to Pullman. Too bad. I don't like the city spending my property tax bond money on bathrooms instead of streets. But my point-of-view lost. That's democracy and that's the law.

April E. Coggins said...

The property that Wal-Mart is going to build on was zoned large commercial 25 years ago and has been available for a change in zoning from that time until the day Wal-Mart applied for their permit. The will of the people was working. What PARD would like to do is usurp the authority of freely elected officials and force the people to bend to their will.

What kind of a town would Pullman be if we only issued building permits to those who are deemed politically correct?

Nic said...

I can't speak to the true intentions of PARD or the deny their hypocrisy, nor can I disagree with your position that Pullman will benefit by bringing in more retail establishments and that Walmart has every right to build here. However, I do take issue with your characterization of those who don't want to see a Walmart in their communities as being elitist and snobs. It's a very sweeping generalization. Every case is different; some fit the mold, others do not. Just because some people would rather see a store that stocked higher quality merchandise move into Pullman over a Walmart does not make them snobs... save that judgement for people who you hear openly say, "Oh, you shop at Walmart?" (with a contemptuous roll of the eyes)

Some people prefer quality and are able to afford it (and this is nothing to be ashamed of), so it makes perfect sense to me that they might want to stop a Walmart from coming into their city with the hopes that they could lure another retailer (and I'm not talking about Target or Costco). And if you are on a tighter budget, then I know of a Walmart and Winco only a few miles away. I don't know if this is PARD's intention, but it is what I would rather see happen, and I don't think that makes me a snob.

April E. Coggins said...

How would having a Wal-Mart here stop your unnamed high-end retailer from locating in Pullman?
Would it have been fair to the previous landowner to make him turn down Wal-Mart's cash offer while you try to lure this unnamed retailer to Pullman? And your high-end retailer may not be good enough for me, so I vote no. Since I have better taste and can afford better, you don't get your store.

Tom Forbes said...

April is right. Preferring another store over Wal-Mart is quite a different matter than actively opposing Wal-Mart and costing city taxpayers $36,000 plus.

Heck, I would rather have a Target too. But guess what? It's not up to me. Or you. If you have an extra $20 million or so to invest, you can build whatever you want in Pullman (assuming PARD doesn't oppose you, in which case your view of them may change).

I have been frankly amazed at this attitude that somehow individuals get a say-so in what stores come to town. Sure, we should plan and set a direction of how we want to grow as a town, but this business of determining which national chain store is more desirable or politically correct than another is just silly.

As far as generalizations go, ask PARD. They generalize continually that anyone who suuports Wal-Mart is either a right-wing nutjob or a paid hack.

PARD has publicly stated that Wal-Mart sells "cheap crap" and "attracts undesirable social elements". If that's not snobbish and elitist, please tell me what is. I don't believe that everyone who opposes Wal-Mart is a snob, but when people start playing the "my favorite store is better than your favorite store" game, I really start to question their motivation.

As far as your argument that "it makes perfect sense to me that they might want to stop a Walmart from coming into their city with the hopes that they could lure another retailer," I'll let Ed Schweitzer, who I think you would agree knows a thing or two more about business than professors in the College of Liberal Arts, address that:

"I urge you and implore you to marginalize zoning to a liberal position," Schweitzer said. "Fair, free, flat, and open zoning; that will make it a county attractive to all business."

It would be a big mistake if we were not to welcome a barbershop as well as a plane manufacturer," Schweitzer said. "If (Whitman County) does that, they will come."

That's called free enterprise. If we drive off Wal-Mart, then we won't get Target, Costco, or anybody else to come here.

And I'm sorry, I don't feel its acceptable to send our budget-minded shoppers to another town to shop. We need to be self-sufficient and that same view is stated in our city's comprehensive plan. That is the "will of the people" that April refers to.

Again, if PARD doesn't like it, they can work to get it changed. But you can't change horses in mid-stream and say "well, we wanted to be self-sufficient with regards to our retail services but we didn't think that meant Wal-Mart." See, there's that ugly snobbery rearing its head again.

April E. Coggins said...

Equal treatment under the law requires that we treat each applicant the same. Whatever regulations or requirements we impose on Wal-Mart MUST be required of all applicants, including Costco, Target, Nordstroms or Cartier's. To single Wal-Mart out for special treatment would not only be unfair, it would land us in a huge lawsuit, one that we would rightly lose.
PARD is trying mightily to impose special regulations on Wal-Mart, including regulations which have never been voted on or adopted by the City of Pullman. PARD is suing the city (and it's citizens) because PARD doesn't agree with our freely adopted regulations. PARD is using the courts to force their will on the people of Pullman, to heck with years of citizen planning and voting. That is why PARD is so disliked in Pullman and why they will continually lose their case. PARD has no authority to make the rules, no matter how loudly they proclaim themselves to be an authority.

Tom Forbes said...

Let me put it another way that is more relevant.

Cynthia Hosick is an ouspoken member of PARD (just search for her name on this blog). Back in May, Hosick wrote the following to Whitman County Commissioners:

"In fact, as much as I support the expansions of SEL (Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories) in most regards, I think their newest huge building is an absolutely awful example of hilltop development, and a prime example of what any city/county development code in this area ought to prohibit."

Now, as SEL is much less controversial than Wal-Mart, its new event center and headquarters building was built, But suppose it had been opposed by PARD as Wal-Mart is being opposed now. Even though SEL owns the land, the land is zoned for the purpose, and SEL paid for the construction, PARD could still have blocked it because some members thought it to be "ugly" (they would have made up more noble sounding causes such as increased traffic, stormwater runoff, etc. for legal purposes).

I wonder if that had happened if you would still be as impressed with PARD's activism. I wonder how long Ed Schweitzer would stay in Pullman if every time SEL built a new building it had to run the gauntlet of these unelected and unappointed "city planners." About five minutes probably. Then you and I would be out of a job.

PARD is not to be commended for what they are doing.

Nic said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nic said...

I very much appreciate your insight into this, and tend to agree with you on a lot of the points that you raise. And, while having a Walmart enter Pullman will probably not preclude other businesses from following suite, my only thought is that I wish it were something else because there is already a Walmart in such a close proximity it seems ridiculous to have two.

As far as PARD is concerned, they may not be the elected officials, but they do wield the power because they are citizens, and in the servant-leadership ideology that democracy touts, the people are the ones that have the power and it is up to us to make sure our community, state and nation are operating to serve the people's best interest. PARD believes that a new business (Walmart in this case, i'm sure they may change their tune if a Pottery Barn, Williams-Sonoma, and Arhaus decided to move into that spot) on Bishop is not in the best interest of the people. And because of this, they are trying to stop it. I'm not saying that I agree with this, or that I don't see through their surreptitious motives, but they are still exercising their rights as citizens. Sometimes it's a bitter pill to swallow, and sometimes a vocal minority has a way of ousting an unengaged majority, but that’s how I understand democracy to work. I’m not commending PARD for their actions, but I still respect the fact that they are active in their role as citizens.

April E. Coggins said...

I would hardly call us an "unengaged majority." Unfortunately, we aren't able to set the court dates so PARD is relying on the snails pace of the process, not on any legal merits. If there was any way to sue the members of PARD, we would do it.
And what you consider active citizenry is costing Pullman not only the $36,000 (so far) to let them have four days of hearings last January and a one day Superior Court hearing in October, (I have sat through all of it and they have no legal case) it is also costing nearly a million dollars a year in lost tax revenue for the city PLUS untold losses for Pullman businesses because a major source of retail traffic is being kept out of town. The cost to PARD? Nothing. Big unions are financing their fight. PARD is allowing themselves to be used as the puppet/figure-head for the national fight between Wal-Mart and the grocery store unions. The individual members of PARD are in this to stroke their own ego. Perhaps Tom could link to Barenjaegers post about the self-licking icecream cone. It sums up their motivations better than I have seen anywhere else.

April E. Coggins said...

One more point, even though PARD calls themselves a non-profit organization, they are not listed as such anywhere and they refuse to disclose their funding or expenditures. For all we know, they are being PAID to front for the unions.

Tom Forbes said...

Just because you have a right, doesn't make it right.

And PARD's "free speech" isn't free when it has cost taxpayers $36,000 and counting, as well as over a million dollars in lost tax revenue. Where's my right not to see my hard-earned tax dollars wasted on these futile appeals?

Even in a democracy, you have to draw the line somewhere and say "enough is enough." Otherwise, nothing would ever get accomplished, because nobody agrees with everyone else on every issue.

Again, I'll quote Ed Schweitzer on this subject:

"Schweitzer said he thinks 'anti-opportunity laws and attitudes' in Washington and Whitman County impede growth...

"He also is concerned residents are working against themselves with 'not in my back yard' and 'citizens against virtually everything' attitudes."

April E. Coggins said...

Nic said..."I wish it were something else because there is already a Walmart in such a close proximity it seems ridiculous to have two."
I wasn't going to respond to that statement, but it has been bothering me. Just because something is in Moscow doesn't mean Pullman can't have one too.
If we didn't allow anything in Pullman that is in Moscow here is a partial list of what we would lose: Public university, stadium, hospital, Safeway, Rite-Aid, McDonalds, Arby's, Chevrolet, Ford, Kinko's, Dodge, American West Bank, Moscow-Pullman Building Supply, Dollar Tree, Ace Hardware, Starbucks, NAPA, Schucks, Les Schwab, UHaul, Auto Body Supercenter, Palouse Medical, GNC, etc. Each retailer makes the decision of whether or not the towns can support their store, not the town. Wal-Mart is the best judge of where to open a store. I'm sure they notice the huge percentage of Washington license plates in their parking lot.
Pullman also has schools, fire, police, hospital, roads, parks, bus system, etc. that we have to fund. Shopping in Moscow, Idaho does not fund anything in Pullman, WA. And while 8 miles may be close proximity for you, many people find it's very inconvenient, especially those without cars.

Nic said...

just curious, but where does the $36,000 number come from?

Tom Forbes said...

Nic, it was reported in the Moscow-Pullman Daily News a few weeks back:

"Pullman City Supervisor John Sherman and Finance Director Troy Woo said Friday the city has spent $36,300.25 in response to litigation against the proposed super center."

Here is a scholarly debunking of Stone's conclusions from the Iowa study that appeared in the July-August 1996 issue of Business Horizons magazine. The authors don't question Stone's data. They merely point that he does not account for regional differences. For example, they found no similar ill effects caused by Wal-Mart in the Northeast and offered explanations why. I think Stone realized those criticisms were legitimate and that is why his most recent study conducted in Mississippi concluded that "both positive and negative impacts on existing stores in the area where the new supercenter locates."