Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

"The final chapter of the Wal-Mart story in Pullman is about to be written"

If you have never met Don Pelton, you're missing out. He is the kind of professor I wish I had back in college. His letter in today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News is right on target, as usual.
Pullman's retail revival

From the Nov. 28, 2006, edition of the Daily News, we read "It could be nine months before a court of appeals hears a case from a group trying to keep Wal-Mart out of Pullman." It is now nine months later and the 3rd District Court of Appeals in Spokane will likely soon hand down its decision.

Since the offer by Wal-Mart to open a store in Pullman has passed all the steps required by law including reviews by a hearing examiner and the district court, it is nearly inconceivable that the Spokane court will reverse the approval.

The Pullman Alliance for Responsible Development bases its opposition to Wal-Mart on two main issues. The first is so many people will want to shop there that traffic will create dangerous situations in Pullman. The second objection is Wal-Mart will create too much competition, and thus somehow negatively effect the economy. Therefore, government must forbid a Wal-Mart store in Pullman.

PARD reports it is prepared to go the limit to block Wal-Mart. It's next appeal is to the Washington State Supreme Court and then through the federal courts to the U.S. Supreme Court.

However, an appeal to the Washington Supreme Court would likely find judges who have no interest in imagined traffic problems in Pullman. The federal courts are for issues involving interstate and national issues. Business competition and traffic in Pullman would be of no interest.

Thus, we can expect the final chapter of the Wal-Mart story in Pullman is about to be written with the start of construction of the Pullman store. This will allow Pullman Building Supply to start its new store also. There will be a revival of retailing in Pullman.

Donald Pelton, Pullman
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Michael said...

This worries me though

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said Monday it is considering rolling out new store sizes and formats, and consultants believe the retailer's festering problems in California -- political and competitive -- are a big reason why.

Without offering details, Wal-Mart spokesman John Simley said the company is evaluating "our existing formats with the aim of achieving better customer relevance."

However, the company played down the possibility, first raised in a report by the Financial Times, that Wal-Mart was considering making some acquisitions. Wal-Mart has generally grown by building new stores.

Consultants said the giant retailer is likely contemplating the rollout of smaller grocery stores, a fraction of the size of Wal-Mart's giant Supercenters and concentrated in urban centers.

Small stores could help Wal-Mart rebound from lackluster results. Sales at stores open at least a year grew a modest 1.9 percent in the most recent quarter.

A small-store format could also help confront two problems dogging the company in California: new competition from British grocer Tesco and political problems that have slowed the expansion of Wal-Mart Supercenters across the state.

The new format "is a reaction to what Tesco is going to do," said George Whalin, head of Retail Management Consultants in San Marcos. Whalin said it's possible the new format could debut in California.

I want a Supercenter. I worry that the PARDners have stalled long enough that Wal-Mart might change their plans.

Tom Forbes said...

Michael, I can assure you that is not the case. A Pullman Wal-Mart is still very much in play and will probably be here sooner than we guess.

Pullman is desperately underretailed and it is a market Wal-Mart really wants to penetrate. The whole Northwest represents in many ways Wal-Mart's "final frontier," along with urban areas back east and in California.

As a side note, I had breakfast with John Simley at the Wal-Mart Media Conference last year and we talked about Pullman.