Congratulations to everyone who helped make it clear that Walmart was not welcome in Watertown: those who collected signatures on petitions; those who researched and wrote letters to the editors and sent comments to the press; those who helped spread the No Walmart vibe by running for office and by designing and fundraising to make the billboard a reality; those who contributed to the billboard; local, independent businesses that put No Walmart signs in their windows; citizens who displayed the signs on their lawns and fences; those who showed up for standouts; and the religious and civic leaders who supported the No Walmart campaign. Community-wide commitment and dedication made it clear that Walmart will not be coming to Watertown!
Walmart notified Town Council President Mark Sideris today that it will not be opening a store in Watertown, Massachusetts. Sideris informed Sustainable Watertown that the company has abandoned its controversial plans to build in both Watertown and Somerville.
Sustainable Watertown, a year-old civic organization, has fought the arrival of the retail giant since residents discovered that a lease had been signed on an Arsenal Street property. Nearly 300 citizens attended the first public discussion last October. Following an intense town election in November, town officials demonstrated increasing opposition to a potential Walmart store. Sustainable Watertown effectively channeled the spirit of an overwhelming number of residents dedicated to saving the unique character and local, independent businesses of Watertown. An organization of seven hundred members attended protests, signed petitions, published letters to local newspapers, and displayed seven hundred “No Walmart: No More Big Boxes” lawn signs across town.
Sideris spoke out unequivocally against Walmart at a May community forum hosted by Sustainable Watertown. Today, Sideris received a call from Walmart’s Arkansas headquarters informing him that Walmart would not be submitting a formal proposal to build here. Though Walmart has yet to make its announcement public, Sideris called the news “solid and real.” Sideris had been warned to expect news this month by Ed Nardi, of Cresset Development Company, which owns the Watertown property that Walmart had conditionally leased over a year ago.
We, the members of Sustainable Watertown, applaud the news of our campaign’s success and pledge to continue to work with town residents and members, supporting neighborhood groups, taking an early role in planning and development projects, and providing venues for discussions of sustainability. We will continue to advocate on behalf of the town for a positive vision of a healthy, just and prosperous community.
Recently, in a letter to the Patch, the local organization, World in Watertown urged local officials to oppose the opening of a Walmart in Watertown.
...Walmart pays an average wage that is 12.4 percent lower than the average of other retail workers in a given community, and the company is less likely to offer health and other benefits. This results in more Walmart workers having need of public health and welfare services, which are ultimately financed by taxpayers.
...as an organization concerned most particularly with human rights, we call your attention especially to Walmart’s track record of abysmal labor practices. We urge the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals to deny any special permits needed to build a Walmart store in Watertown.
Read more at The Watertown Patch >>
An argument we frequently hear in support of Walmart is how it will bring low cost goods to Watertwon shoppers. We've always countered that we already have Target, as well as numerous places to buy groceries that offer prices that are competitive to Walmart's. Well, now we have proof
Watertown residents Mark Kraczkiewicz, Lois Mastrangelo, Maryann Merigan, Alison Bengel Sisk, and Amy Vachon conducted their own comparison shopping trips. They visited Walmart stores in Framingham, MA and Salem, NH, as well as local Target, BJs, Trader Joe’s and Stop & Shop stores. Their conclusions? While Walmart may have some items available at a few cents less than other local stores, they are by no means the price leader on many items. For instance, the group found that Stop & Shop had better prices on laundry detergent and paper towels, while Trader Joes and BJ's had better prices on ground beef.
After exhausting our first two runs with over 500 signs distributed, we're happy to announce that the red "No Walmart - No More Big Boxes" lawn signs are again available. And, thanks to a generous donation, we are now able to provide them free of charge (at least until we run out).
If you would like a sign, please drop a line to firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll even hand-deliver it to your door or lawn.
From the New York Times: "In the Boston area, Wal-Mart is eyeing three possible stores, in Somerville and Watertown and in the Roxbury neighborhood. Leaders of the local anti-Wal-Mart coalition are now demanding that the company publicly identify its financial contributions to elected officials, local organizations and community leaders."
"Mr. Restivo, the Wal-Mart spokesman, said the company would not change its pattern of giving to politicians"