Town Square

WalMart Goes Upscale = WalMart in Palo Alto?

Original post made by J.L., Ventura, on Oct 29, 2006

Web Link

I'm no WalMart fan; in fact, I've resisted ever setting foot in a WalMart - mostly because of their poor record will WalMart employees. WalMart is making some positive changes, and may eventually begin to help their employees gain parity. This is a "PC" issue.

So, here's a hypothetical. Would you ever accept a WalMart in Palo Alto? This would probably be a store targeted at the consumer electronics market, or possibly higher end clothing. It looks like they're going to target the upscale demographic, with small stores, and very specific ad placements.

Palo Alto needs sales tax dollars.

Is this something you would consider? If not, why not?


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Posted by ToldUSo
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 29, 2006 at 9:39 am

As much as I don't like WalMart for various reasons, this is something Palo Alto should consider. If we could have a smaller upscale high end store, so much the better. Unfortunately, I know that local residents wouldn't be keen, due to traffic, the element it would attract, etc. etc. At present, I believe, WalMart is already using the old Albertsons at Alma Plaza for storage, so they already are in Palo Alto, so to speak, and this would be an ideal location for them to consider. As increasing sales tax for Palo Alto is now URGENT we should do our utmost to make this attractive for them. Anything better than what we have at Alma Plaza is a good idea and those who live nearby must see that an empty plaza only encourages crime, drugs, etc. as a great hangout for those who want to get up to no good. I certainly would not like to be living next to that empty plaza.

If it was built, it would be used and in a couple of years we would not remember what we had to complain about. This is the way communities change.

I know a few JLS students who would love to have a cool place to have lunch on minimum days!!!!!!

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Posted by George
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Oct 29, 2006 at 2:50 pm

I am not sure what you mean by poor record with employees....Have you worked for them? Do you personally know anyone that does? My understanding is that the average starting wage is comparable to any other retailer (otherwise no one would work with them) and as you move up into managment the pay is pretty good with all things considered like bonus.....I wonder how much of the Wal-Mart chatter is done with actual knowledge......if you look at the press/comments on both sides it is much like a political debate.....everyone has their agenda. In the end the consumer votes with their wallet and Wal-Mart is not a $300 billion company by mistake. I say let them build. Bring on the sales tax dollars and all the other money they give to the community through charitable donations.

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Posted by Hulkamania
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 29, 2006 at 3:17 pm

If you can get beyond the fact that Wal-Mart sells cheap crap then, by all means, let them set up shop in Palo Alto.

There are reasons that a number of cities around the country have had referendums that either block Wal-Mart from moving in or forced them into paying for health care and/or a living wage so their employees can afford to see a doctor and not use food stamps.

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Posted by Drew
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Oct 29, 2006 at 7:20 pm

ToldUSo: Can you please elaborate on what you mean by "the element it will attract"? Thank you in advance.

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Posted by ToldUSo
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 29, 2006 at 7:40 pm

This is not my point of view, but whenever something like this is discussed for Palo Alto, there is always a loud minority who do not like it for various reasons. The local residents tend to complain in advance about the increased traffic, etc. and the hoards of people who would come into Palo Alto from other areas, possibly from the working class areas in surrounding cities. WalMart has the reputation for cheap everyday items for those on lower incomes and I expect that these type of people are not wanted to shop in the same stores as the elite of Palo Alto looking for a bargain. As I said earlier this is not my point of view, but I expect the local residents in any neighborhood would complain, expecting their house prices to fall and various other negative comments. This is something that always happens and we end up with nothing. Personally, I would much rather have a busy mini strip mall in my neighborhood rather than a derelict parking lot which would certainly attract undesirables as a meeting place for drug dealing, crime and who knows what else.

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Posted by DJ
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 29, 2006 at 8:04 pm

Why upscale Wal-Mart - I would be happy if they have a "Walmart" in Palo Alto. Space may be an issue - so let them come up with a scaled down version ..

Not only would this bring convience for the comsumer - but it would bring in the much needed tax $

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Posted by Alan
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Oct 29, 2006 at 11:33 pm

Since, the topic is WalMart thought this might be relevant.

You can watch the PBS Frontline episode "Is Wal-Mart Good for America?" at the link below.

Web Link

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Posted by David
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 30, 2006 at 1:42 am

Low prices always come at a price, and sales tax revenues always come at a high price. Wal-Mart is the largest corporation on the planet. They employ 1.3 million employees in the US. The majority of their employees are living at or below the poverty level, while their Chief Executive was paid over $5 million dollars last year. Employee wages have been caped, and they have scaled back worker hours because part-time workers have no longevity, and can't qualify for the benefits that are made available by the company. Over half of the 1.3 million Wal-Mart employees are receiving welfare, and welfare health benefits because they can't afford Wal-Mart's expensive health insurance. Wal-Mart's new health plan provides for 3 doctors visits, and 3 prescription drugs per year. Hospital deductibles are $1,000 per visit, and there is a $5,000 annual deductible for single employees and a $10,000 annual deductible for married employees before benefits kick in. There are a plethora of reasons why you don't want to dance with the devil. I was a Wal-Mart executive who got tired of the way that they are sacking the American public. There's a reason why they are the only large retailer that is involved in billions of dollars in litigation from hundreds of thousands of current and former employees.

A Wal-Mart for Palo ALto? Good look--you did have a nice city.

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Posted by Andrew L. Freedman
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 30, 2006 at 2:11 pm

I'll chime in a little here.

As a lifelong resident of Palo Alto (one who remembers Maxi-Mart - where Fry's is now) and being a renter, I choose Wal-Mart for most of my shopping needs.

It is strictly a financial decision - I am unable to afford those same items at Safeway, Pizzza, Walgreens, Long's, etc. An over-the-counter item that I can buy at Wal-Mart for .99 cents sells for 4.99 Walgreen's brand. That same type of item for over 7.99 at Piazza.


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Posted by J.L.
a resident of Ventura
on Oct 30, 2006 at 3:00 pm

Good point. This is a fact that is lost on those who are unaware than 15% of PA households survive on roughly $40K per year, or less. Many of those people are seniors, with senior populations on the rise.

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Posted by AG
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Oct 30, 2006 at 3:53 pm

Yes I remember Maxi-Mart. As child, and bit older, I liked going there. However, I do know people who have worked at Wal-mart and I would not like to have one here. Their politics are horrible, as is the way they treat their employes like cattle.

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Posted by CitizenForBetterNeighborhood
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Oct 30, 2006 at 6:46 pm

Watch out for NIMBY types to come out of the woodworks opposed to any sales tax generator moving into town. They are the most selfish citizens of Palo Alto.

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Posted by Howard
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 30, 2006 at 7:13 pm

Am I missing something? Isn't there a Walmart at San Antonio shopping center? Why would Walmart consider another store so close to that?

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Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 30, 2006 at 9:56 pm

The PBS Frontline episode that Alan mentions "Is Wal-Mart Good for America?" is a must see if you want to understand how WalMart became a $300 billion company. They didn't get there by taking care of their employees -- or their vendors.

You may think you're getting a good deal when you shop at Wal-Mart, but you're paying in other ways. At Web Link you will find the following:

Your tax dollars pay for Wal-Mart's greed

The estimated total amount of federal assistance for which Wal-Mart employees were eligible in 2004 was $2.5 billion. 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.

In contrast, Costco's average pay (in July 2005) was $17 an hour, 42 percent higher than its fiercest rival, Sam's Club. And Costco's health plan makes those at many other retailers look Scroogish. One analyst, Bill Dreher of Deutsche Bank, complained last year that at Costco "it's better to be an employee or a customer than a shareholder."

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Posted by Lola
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 31, 2006 at 11:26 am

Do you really think that the Palo Alto residence who complain when you park your car backwards on a street or have a sissy fit and give you dirty looks if you are going 26 mph in a 25 zone? Yeah right. Walmart is the epitomy of what America is and shouldn't be. An awful hideous corporation. Yes Palo Alto is snobbish and I go to Afrika to help out the poor little ones, but I love walking the serene streats of Palo Alto and I love the character that it has. Keep Walmart out. Keep the tacky out. Mt. View isn't too far away. Venture down there.

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Posted by Dan
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 31, 2006 at 8:03 pm

Amen, Lola!! Keep the "poor little ones" in Afrika and the "tacky" people in Mountain View! Let us enjoy the character of Palo Alto the way we want to!!

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Posted by J.L.
a resident of Ventura
on Oct 31, 2006 at 10:26 pm

Howard, read the first post. WalMart is expanding into higher demographic areas, in higher-end consumer electronics, fashion, and other areas. This new effort will result in smaller stores in select areas, outfitted in a way to compete with other high end local venues.

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Posted by JT
a resident of another community
on Nov 1, 2006 at 11:37 am

I live in a town with both a WalMart & a Target so if I were to choose a "better neighbor" to have I would DEFINITELY choose Target....HANDS DOWN! They listen to the community and any concerns/issues that may come around whereas WalMart just refers any & all issues/concerns to their corporate office via telephone. Plus, Target keeps their stores very tidy & secure....WalMart does not!

Then there is the social irresponsibility issue and the poor employee relations/treatment issues on top of that!

Seek Target - Sink WalMart!

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Posted by Wolf
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 2, 2006 at 2:22 am

Pat from midtown is so excited by WalMart malfeasance that she quotes us, courtesy of the famously unbiased PBS, all the horrifying details of the $500,000 in federal welfare that each 200 WalMart employees supposedly cost us.

So I have a simple question for her: How much would 200 unemployed cost us instead?

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Posted by chris
a resident of University South
on Nov 2, 2006 at 10:54 pm

I think most people are aware that there is a Wal-Mart and Target on San Antonio. It's good to see that some people have nothing better to do than discuss something that absolutely will not happen.

It would be more interesting to discuss bowling alleys, hotels, or car dealers in Palo Alto.