Archive for Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Wal-Mart proposal up for city approval

This architect's rendering shows the Wal-Mart site at Sixth Street and Wakarusa Drive.

This architect's rendering shows the Wal-Mart site at Sixth Street and Wakarusa Drive.

August 7, 2007


Wal-Mart is back at City Hall.

City commissioners tonight are scheduled to vote on plans related to Wal-Mart's proposal to build a store at the northwest corner of Sixth Street and Wakarusa Drive.

Lawrence-Douglas County planning commissioners unanimously recommended approval of the project last month. If city commissioners approve the project, it would mark the end of an approximately five-year battle by developers to build a second Wal-Mart in the city.

The project may finally have the support it needs on the City Commission. Plans for a Wal-Mart were rejected by a previous City Commission; the project sparked a lawsuit by developers who contended the city illegally denied a building permit for the store. But the lawsuit was put on hold shortly after the April City Commission elections.

Following the elections, only one of the three city commissioners who had opposed the project remained in office. The new City Commission asked the developers to put the lawsuit on hold and submit new plans for the Wal-Mart.

Mayor Sue Hack and Commissioner Mike Amyx both voted for the previous Wal-Mart plan. The plans before commissioners tonight are slightly different - a 24-unit apartment complex that was slated to be adjacent to the store has been replaced by open space - but Hack indicated she still likes what she's seen.

She said a new report from the city's Public Works Department and the Kansas Department of Transportation, detailing how Sixth Street would function with the store in place, was encouraging.

"To me it says that the streets in the area are still going to be able to do what they were designed to do," Hack said.

Commissioner Boog Highberger, who voted against Wal-Mart's previous proposal, said he still had concerns.

"I still think traffic is a legitimate concern, and I still think the impact on our existing retail is a legitimate concern," Highberger said.

Commissioners meet at 6:35 tonight at City Hall. Hack said she'll likely limit the amount of time for public comment on the Wal-Mart issue to about one hour.


Crossfire 10 years, 9 months ago

Where is Masta Walton gonna keep dem slaves?

Ward 10 years, 9 months ago

wow. it looks like it could be in any american suburb! congrats on creating NO identity. high five!

warthog 10 years, 9 months ago

"a 24-unit apartment complex that was slated to be adjacent to the store has been replaced by open space "

Danggit... I was a-hopin' ta git one of them thar apartments next ta Walmart. Guess I kin still park ma Winnybago in the parkin' lot.

Bud Stagg 10 years, 9 months ago

Oh god we need a dicks sporting goods so bad. Nothing against Francis, but how much can you put in a 20x50 store downtown?

Long live Wal Mart! The best example of the american sytem there is. Started as a mom and pop store in downtown Bentonville, AR, a city much like Lawrence. I'm sure none of the anti-Wal Mart crowd would say these horrible things about any of our merchants in downtown if they made it as big as the Waltons did.

alm77 10 years, 9 months ago

bowhunter: I don't shop there now, I won't shop there when it's 1/2 mile from my house.

Joe: I wouldn't support anyone who has "made it big" by unethical business practices.

Believe it or not, the percentage of the population refusing to shop there is growing.

Christine Pennewell Davis 10 years, 9 months ago

It is always so funny reading these when it is about walmart, each side is so dug in and the barbs that fly. So funny.

abbynormal 10 years, 9 months ago

We don't need another Walmart.

Facts: -Wal-Mart highlights its American suppliers but imports 60 percent of its goods

-In December 2005, a California court ordered Wal-Mart to pay $172 million in damages for failing to provide meal breaks to nearly 116,000 hourly workers as required under state law. Wal-Mart appealed the case.

-Wal-Mart reported in January 2006 that its health insurance only covers 43% of their employees. Wal-Mart has approximately 1.39 million US employees.

-One Out of Six Wal-Mart Employees Has No Health Care Coverage At All

-One 200-employee Wal-Mart store may cost federal taxpayers $420,750 per year. This cost comes from the following, on average: +$36,000 a year for free and reduced lunches for just 50 qualifying Wal-Mart families. +$42,000 a year for low-income housing assistance. +$125,000 a year for federal tax credits and deductions for low-income families. +$100,000 a year for the additional expenses for programs for students. +$108,000 a year for the additional federal health care costs of moving into state children's health insurance programs (S-CHIP) +$9,750 a year for the additional costs for low income energy assistance.

-Over the course of [a few years after Wal-Mart entered a community], retailers' sales of apparel dropped 28% on average, hardware sales fell by 20%, and sales of specialty stores fell by 17%.

-A 2004 study of estimated additional driving costs of Supercenters in the San Francisco Bay area concluded that there would be up to an additional 238 million vehicle miles traveled per year. These extra miles traveled could cost communities in the Bay area up $ 256 million in additional costs for infrastructure repair and environmental degradation.

-Annuanlly WAL-MART Costs Taxpayers $1,557,000,000.00 to Support its Employees

-WALMART recieves approx. $1.008 Billion in subsidies annually. ^^^^^^Imagine what the money could have been used for in the all of those communities. Schools? Increasing teacher salaries? Parks? Roads? FREAKIN T BUSES!?

Roadkill_Rob 10 years, 9 months ago


No, I won't shop there and I never will. And I'm not against growth, I just prefer growth with stores and cookie cutter suburbs kill the soul and the imagination.

Roadkill_Rob 10 years, 9 months ago


Seven dollars for a quality burger and fries really isn't that much to spend for a meal.

But, if you prefer meat with sh!t in it, go ahead and buy your fast food burger for $2...and I mean it literally has sh!t in it. Read (or rent) Fast Food Nation and you'll know what I'm talking about.

However, I agree that it would be nice to have a place to buy toilet paper downtown. I wish there was a little market downtown that sold beer and wine as well. An all-night diner would be nice too.

bugmenot 10 years, 9 months ago

Ah, the favorite argument of the Wal-Mart supporter: "Yeah, they're bad, but other companies do bad things, too, which makes it okay for Wal-Mart to do it." Wal-Mart has the power to change the way lots of companies to business. It chooses to lower the bar and force other companies (even big ones) to do shady business like it does or go out of business otherwise. That's the problem. When you're the biggest and most powerful, if you choose to use that power for evil, you'll be branded as evil. And, honestly, if the "Other people do bad things, too" argument didn't fly with your mom when you were little, why does it fly now?

Ace_Ventura 10 years, 9 months ago

I will never shop there and I will live within 3 min of it. I Will stick with my home town Hy-Vee and go to Target when I need something I can't get from Hy-Vee. Walfart can suck a phatty!

jonas 10 years, 9 months ago

"Ward (Anonymous) says:

wow. it looks like it could be in any american suburb! congrats on creating NO identity."

At sixth and Wakarusa? A little late for that.

Architect's renderings should have better cars in them. Like the Batmobile, and maybe the Oscar Meier Wiener Truck.

BROWNIE 10 years, 9 months ago

A buddy of mine needed some extra spending money and couldn't find anything else, so he applied at Wal-Mart as a checker. He's making $11.50/hour! Maybe we should give them a tax abatement for creating new jobs that pay above a "living wage."

Roadkill_Rob 10 years, 9 months ago


Thanks for spinning my words around. Never once did I say that I need retail stores to stir my soul and imagination.

You truly are the king sheep of neocon can spin people's words around with the best of them. You must've learned it from your boy Hannity.

Emily Hadley 10 years, 9 months ago

"Commissioners meet at 6:35 tonight at City Hall. Hack said she'll likely limit the amount of time for public comment on the Wal-Mart issue to about one hour."

I keep reading this about Hack more and more. Who the H does she think she is? There are 100,000 people in this city, and apparently about half of us oppose this. If just 1% of those opposed showed up to to voice their opposition, then each person would be granted 7.2 seconds to speak.

How about if we had limited Wal-Mart to two proposals before calling time on them? Wal-Mart has wasted much, much more of our city's resources over this issue than everyone hoping to exercise their privilege of public comment. Considering that citizens give to the community and Wal-Mart drains revenue from existing businesses as well as exporting that wealth OUT of Lawrence, I think we Lawrencians deserve more mic time than the proposed tenant.

Emily Hadley 10 years, 9 months ago

Hopefully 1% of those opposed WILL show up to make a visual representation of our stance on this.

Five hundred people could not easily be ignored by five, even if they turn off the microphone.

Kaw Pickinton 10 years, 9 months ago

You can dress up a turd any way you want but its still going to stink.

Mkh 10 years, 9 months ago

"I keep reading this about Hack more and more. Who the H does she think she is?"

She is someone who thinks she FINALLY has power and repect in the small sandbox of Lawrence, KS. But the truth is, she is just another troll puppet of Doug Compton.

creamygnome 10 years, 9 months ago

I think there are plenty of other problems taxpayers are having to split the bill on that aren't related to wal-mart at all. I'd rather pay for a wal-mart employee's healthcare than to feed and clothe the 6 kids of some 24 year old alcoholic-chainsmoking-whitetrash single mother. Interesting facts though, I appreciate you putting them up.

Matt Toplikar 10 years, 9 months ago

How come there wasn't anything in this story about the Grassroots Action poll that showed a clear majority (almost 2 to 1) of the town does not want a new Wal-Mart? This seems like a pretty big thing to leave out. I hate to say it, but I really think the coverage of this story in the Journal World has been slanted. If you look back through the list of stories on this issue, it's pretty obvious that the discussion of the negative impacts that Wal-Mart will have on this town has been downplayed or left out completely, while any and all arguments for a new Wal-Mart (there aren't many) keep popping up in every story.

There was a headline that read "Economic Boost" with a picture of Wal-Mart next to it. One story discussed how the city's comprehensive plan said the area in question was designed for retail, but failed to leave out that the plans also called for a non-department store. There was a story that downplayed to retail market analysis done by KU professor, Kirk McClure. There are many more examples, but one thing I've definitely noticed is that for the last few years, almost every Journal World article on this subject has led people to believe that the Wal-Mart store is only a few logistical steps from going through.

If you study Wal-Mart's tactics for dealing with any kind of resistence towards a new store going in, you see the same thing that is going on in this town. Somehow, anyone who might actually speak out against a new Wal-Mart is convinced that the wheels are already in motion-- that it's already too late to do anything about it, and we might as well just give up. For the last 2 years, whenever I talk to someone about the Wal-Mart issue, they basically all say the same thing "I don't want it here, but I thought it was pretty much a done deal. Isn't it going in already?"

I have to say that I'm pretty ashamed that our paper hasn't better informed people on this issue. There is a huge group of people going down to City Hall tonight to speak out against this, and I'm not even sure if it will be reported on. I know that the owners of the Journal World (which I know on a friendly basis-- they have always been kind to me) are business partners with Doug Compton who owns the land that wants to lease to Wal-Mart. I don't want to any make accusations but let me just say that it really seems like this is a conflict of interests that needs to be stated in each story upfront.

Noweigh 10 years, 9 months ago

It's wonderful when the consumer gets to speak with their pocketbooks and wallets. If the marketplace doesn't like or believe in Wal-Mart they won't shop there. The truly free marketplace determines who and what products/services succeed or fail. Ask Chevrolet about the Corvair, ask Suzuki about the Samauri, ask Ford about the Edsel, ask some poorly run retail stores in Lawrence's past. If Lawrence consumers are so smart, so self righteous and so all-knowing and truly agrees with the nay-sayers on this post, Wal-Mart doesn't stand a chance. My guess is that Wal-Mart does fill a need, consumers will respond and Wal-Mart grows. It's the exact same principle that allows The Merc, yes, The Merc to grow, expand, use more of our city's resources, use a bigger parking lot, deal with more cars, etc. Yes, the Merc fills a real need of a particular consumer group here. Heck, they even moved to the evil West side to expand. The free marketplace is an amazing thing.

Mkh 10 years, 9 months ago

"If the marketplace doesn't like or believe in Wal-Mart they won't shop there. The truly free marketplace determines who and what products/services succeed or fail."

OK, but who ever said that Walmart was in the Free Market??? Walmart gets Billions and Billions of dollars every year from the Government via the Tax Payer...that doesn't sound like a free market enterprise to me.

deec 10 years, 9 months ago

The other problem is, when Walmart moves into small communities, it drives other businesses out, so the consumer then has no free market choice to shop elsewhere.

Roadkill_Rob 10 years, 9 months ago


Nobody (not even us self-righteous people) disagree with your free marketplace philosophy.

However, there's nothing "free" about Wal-Mart. It uses communist slave labor to produce cheap goods and then they eliminate competition. Then, the uneducated (Right_Thinker) shop there for their cheap goods without thinking of the consequences. Most people who shop at Wal-Mart either don't care or have no idea about why it's so cheap to shop there.

Roadkill_Rob 10 years, 9 months ago


Again, I won't shop there. Also, don't make generalizations based on what one person wrote. It shows how simple-minded you are.

Bud Stagg 10 years, 9 months ago

YOU PEOPLE ARE FIGHTING THE WRONG PERSON. Fighting Wal-Mart is like kicking the drug addict in the fight on drugs. Wal Mart is only competing in the system that we amercians have created, don't blame them. You need to change the system.

Wal-Mart uses comunist slave labor? Where does Sears, JC penny, Home Depot, Kohls, Target, etc get their goods from? EVERYONE buys stuff from China. Wal-Mart does a a better job of leveraging their power to getter prices, so they are the bad guy? That makes them smart in my book, they are trying to keep prices low for the consumer. Let's all make Wal-Mart the bad guy. If you are going to boycott Wal-Mart then you better boycott them all, even HyVee buys stuff from china and other similiar places. I understand people wanting a better system but don't blame the guy that is successful using that system. They are only successful because people buy stuff from them. Again it's the American Way.

If you don't want our retail vendors to buy stuff from China, then you better block China, stopping Wal-Mart will only allow another Vendor to step up.

Ghost78 10 years, 9 months ago

I'm happy to say that I'll be positively impacting the environment by driving a shorter distance to shop at Walmart. Pick your battles, folks.

Roadkill_Rob 10 years, 9 months ago

Okay, for you guys getting all upset that I think that Wal-Mart is the only store that uses chinese slave labor:

I brought slave labor up in response to the "free marketplace" argument. If you are going to defend Wal-Mart using the "free marketplace" argument, I was simply stating that there is nothing "free" about Wal-Mart.

And I realize Wal-Mart isn't the only place that practices this. Thanks for jumping in and not reading previous posts, though.

Richard Heckler 10 years, 9 months ago

The Wal-Mart You Don't Know

Are we shopping our way straight to the unemployment line?

From: Issue 77 | December 2003 | Page 68 | By: Charles Fishman | Photographs By: Livia Corona

Therein lies the basic conundrum of doing business with the world's largest retailer. By selling a gallon of kosher dills for less than most grocers sell a quart, Wal-Mart may have provided a ser-vice for its customers. But what did it do for Vlasic? The pickle maker had spent decades convincing customers that they should pay a premium for its brand. Now Wal-Mart was practically giving them away. And the fevered buying spree that resulted distorted every aspect of Vlasic's operations, from farm field to factory to financial statement.

Indeed, as Vlasic discovered, the real story of Wal-Mart, the story that never gets told, is the story of the pressure the biggest retailer relentlessly applies to its suppliers in the name of bringing us "every day low prices." It's the story of what that pressure does to the companies Wal-Mart does business with, to U.S. manufacturing, and to the economy as a whole. That story can be found floating in a gallon jar of pickles at Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart is not just the world's largest retailer. It's the world's largest company--bigger than ExxonMobil, General Motors, and General Electric. The scale can be hard to absorb. Wal-Mart sold $244.5 billion worth of goods last year. It sells in three months what number-two retailer Home Depot sells in a year. And in its own category of general merchandise and groceries, Wal-Mart no longer has any real rivals. It does more business than Target, Sears, Kmart, J.C. Penney, Safeway, and Kroger combined. "Clearly," says Edward Fox, head of Southern Methodist University's J.C. Penney Center for Retailing Excellence, "Wal-Mart is more powerful than any retailer has ever been." It is, in fact, so big and so furtively powerful as to have become an entirely different order of corporate being.

Wal-Mart wields its power for just one purpose: to bring the lowest possible prices to its customers. At Wal-Mart, that goal is never reached. The retailer has a clear policy for suppliers: On basic products that don't change, the price Wal-Mart will pay, and will charge shoppers, must drop year after year. But what almost no one outside the world of Wal-Mart and its 21,000 suppliers knows is the high cost of those low prices. Wal-Mart has the power to squeeze profit-killing concessions from vendors. To survive in the face of its pricing demands, makers of everything from bras to bicycles to blue jeans have had to lay off employees and close U.S. plants in favor of outsourcing products from overseas. "The gallon jar of pickles at Wal-Mart became a devastating success, giving Vlasic strong sales and growth numbers--but slashing its profits by millions of dollars."


peppermint 10 years, 9 months ago

Mkh says (of Mayor Sue Hack): "But the truth is, she is just another troll puppet of Doug Compton."

There is more to that story than most citizens know. The fact that Compton insures his many properties with Sue Hack's husband (Alan Hack Insurance) makes it impossible for Hack to be objective. And Hack herself stated Compton had threatened to take away his business from her husband, if he didn't like her vote. Hack is bought and paid for by Compton and does not represent the people of Lawrence.

Jeteras 10 years, 9 months ago

You can surround poop with diamonds but it is still poop.

ModSquadGal 10 years, 9 months ago

Would somebody just kill this stupid project once and for all? How many idiots does it take to think we need a SECOND Wal-Fart in this town... especially one right next to the High School? They already expanded the other one to ginormous proportions, and now it's a gaping hole of crappy, cheap, imported goods. Why don't we try something that makes more sense for our community and doesn't so much add money to line the pockets of the greedy Walton heirs?

Roadkill_Rob 10 years, 9 months ago

Alrighty then..I guess keep telling yourself what you want to hear to justify shopping at Wal-Mart.

Roadkill_Rob 10 years, 9 months ago

"Which would be nothing. What's there to say?"

Well, maybe you're not reading the posts today. Here's a few:

¢ Wally World has just become some kind of whipping boy because it is much easier to complain about them than it is to solve the more global issue.

¢except for their furniture and shoes I'm not sure what is sold at Walmart that isn't the same name brand crap sold everywhere else.

¢Fighting Wal-Mart is like kicking the drug addict in the fight on drugs

¢Wal-Mart does a a better job of leveraging their power to getter prices, so they are the bad guy? That makes them smart in my book, they are trying to keep prices low for the consumer.

greedy 10 years, 9 months ago

I'm not so up to date on this, but what's the city giving Wal Mart? Also, why do we need this again? I can't think of anything that WalMart provides Lawrence that we don't already have. Shouldn't we be a bit more greedy? Like:

NO subsidies. None of the Mom and Pop stores got them and they don't have near as much capitol as Wal Mart. Let's milk those guys. No tax breaks, no "help." Nothing. Why does this company need this "help?" C'mon they make more money than EVERYONE in Lawrence combined.

Long term leases. Walmart has a nasty habit of leaving a building that's too big for the next business to take over (think Sunflower Ammunition). What is the city supposed to do with the space WHEN the current tenant leaves (because no business has ever been anywhere forever)? We should lock Wal Mart into a loooong term lease, 40 years or something big. If the business has as much impact as a professional sports team, shouldn't it have some restrictions to it's mobility?

If this happens, we should protect our own interests. That is our town.

Stephen Roberts 10 years, 9 months ago


Could you please provide me a link where you saw 40,000 Lawrence residents gainst the Wal-Mart at 6Th & Wak. I would love to see 40,000 Lawrence Residents show up at a city commission meeting.

I am confused though, I would have thought those people would have voted for Boog, Schauner, and the third progressive or Anti-Wal-Mart candidate at all costs?

monkeyhawk 10 years, 9 months ago

Remember that guy who had a meltdown at the cc meeting a while back? I can only assume he was an acquaintance of the plc/gra commissioners since they called him by name in an attempt to calm him. I wonder if we will have a repeat tonight?

jonas 10 years, 9 months ago

"Stain (Anonymous) says:

commuter: Whatever are you talking about. Misquoting people doesn't enhance your position one bit. Did you read the poll results in yesterday's J-W? I didn't think so."

Was that the super-scientific one with a whopping 206 respondents in it, or has there been another one? When that number gets into the thousands, or even better the ten-thousands, then look us up. Personally, I think we should expect a representative sample to include at least a hundredth of a percent of the population before we start touting ourselves as conducting scientific polling.

jonas 10 years, 9 months ago

I was curious, Merrill, do you think that without Walmart, Vlasic and other homogeneous goods companies would have no pressure to continually cut prices in order to stay competitive?

nbnozzy 10 years, 9 months ago

Hello second Wal-Mart, welcome to Lawrence.

George_Braziller 10 years, 9 months ago

My sympathy to Far West Lawrence. You are getting from your commissioners what the majority of the few who voted or expressed ANY interest in local government elected. Don't vote then don't complain.

George_Braziller 10 years, 9 months ago

right_thinker -- Can you at least give us a clue what you meant when you wrote:

"Ya'll are absolutely prestigious"

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