My hometown of Chino Valley has seen a lot of growth over the years. Going from about 1,000 people in the 1980s to more than 8,000 when I worked for the Chino Valley Review in 2000 to more than 12,000 people today, it is no longer a small farming community.
In that time, we’ve had a big-chain grocery store move in (and relocate to another building), fast food restaurants move in, the business base build up. Even though Chino Valley, in some ways, remains a bedroom community, it’s definitely grown out of its reputation as a “blink and you’ll miss it” town.
Still, there are just some things you do not want to see happen to turn it from rural haven to urban sprawl. In a recent issue of the Review, a letter writer suggested bringing Walmart to Chino Valley. Here’s what Dianne Sypor had to say:
“Let’s get a super 24-hour Walmart or Sam’s Club and gas station. One of their policies is to hire local people—people from Paulden, Ash Fork, Williams and Seligman.
“People passing through Chino Valley on Highway 89 daily go to Prescott for cheaper prices. Money saved on gas and food with fair prices is good old American competition, which is good for all, especially for those who can’t drive to Prescott.
“If Chino Valley doesn’t want a Walmart, I hope someone who owns property on Highway 89 offers a deal to Walmart and then almost all shopping will be local and solves the problem.”
I think it’s the last paragraph that makes me the most annoyed. If Chino Valley doesn’t want a Walmart, let’s force it down their throats anyway. Walmart will instantly solve everyone’s financial problems.
The history in my hometown has shown that anything forced on it has transformed into a knock-down, drag-out fight with a bitter aftertaste that lasts for years. When you look at the struggles that Walmart has in getting past planning commissions and community groups, having such a fight in Chino Valley would cause fracturing beyond anything ever seen in the area.
Take, for example, an April 20 news report from a San Diego TV station about a Walmart under construction in Sherman Heights, Calif., where 60 protesters came out of the woodwork after it appeared that the big box company was going against its promise to preserve the historic integrity of a farmers market building.
A June 26 online story about a Walmart moving into Monroe, Wash., reported:
“Market data gathered over the years in other communities where Walmart set up shop shows that on average a Walmart store opening kills three local jobs for every two they create by reducing retail employment by an average of 2.7 percent in every county they enter and that stores ‘near’ a new Walmart—not simply in close proximity—are at increased risk of going out of business.”
In Warren County, N.J., people were fuming over a new Walmart under construction that promised little impact on the neighborhood but has resulted in the decimation of dozens of trees, according to a Pennsylvania TV news report from last August.
Walmart is not necessarily an evil entity overall. It just tends to be a bad fit of urban commerce forcing its way into rural settings.
We have a Walmart here in Shawano, and while some of the prices are good, the service tends to be a turnoff. Take the greeters. The concept of someone welcoming you into a place of business should be a wonderful thing and a factor that helps convince you to purchase something. However, at the local Walmart, many of the greeters are almost automatons, saying “Welcome to Walmart. Have a nice day” with the mechanical, monotone precision of a broken record.
A Walmart works here because it’s serving an area of almost 50,000 people with two counties and the northern piece of a third. It wouldn’t work in Chino Valley with its small population and close proximity to three other Walmarts within 20 miles.
Chino Valley definitely could benefit from competition, especially in the grocery sector. However, I don’t see Walmart simply giving Safeway a run for its money; I see it choking the store’s lifeforce away. Then it will be the only game in town, and you’re back to the whole shop-here-or-drive-to-Prescott cycle Chino Valley suffers from today.
Another grocery store would be a good thing for Chino Valley. A Walmart, though? I think my hometown could do better.