Could a Wal-Mart Upscale Superstore be in store for the Downtown City Center?
Think it can’t happen in San Ramon, think again. Wal-Mart has been trying for years to get a Superstore in the San Ramon Valley. While Pleasanton has a general merchandise Wal-Mart, it is not a Superstore. The terms big-box, superstore, megastore, and supercenter also refer to these large square footage retail establishments.
Just recently the Livermore City Council said absolutely No to Wal-Mart’s plans of building a Super Sized Store in the Livermore area. In fact a total ban on Big Box Stores was set in place.
“Livermore City Council passed an ordinance to forbid such superstores from being allowed within city limits. Livermore voted for the ordinance after Wal-Mart showed an interest in bringing an 185,000-square-foot discount retail center with a grocery store to town.
Although rebuffed by Livermore, Wal-Mart or another retailer deciding there may be a viable market in the Tri-Valley could shop their plans to another city.” ref
Why Did Livermore Ban Superstores?
The fact of the matter is where Wal-Mart superstores have been built in various places in the country, they have caused a major problem of urban decay. Urban decay occurs when areas of the city fall into a state of disrepair or a major shift in the buying habits of people put local community anchor supermarkets out of business, and associated retailers are subsequently displaced due to not enough business at the various locations around the area. The Livermore city council understood the significance of maintaining the local anchors to support the other large percentage of businesses and small retailers that make up the Livermore landscape. They recognized the threat of a Wal-Mart Superstore to the community and made the right decision for the people.
Dublin is now being targeted as a Wal-Mart superstore location, but Wal-Mart would like a much better location in the Tri-Valley. Could the new San Ramon City Center be a target for a Wal-Mart Superstore? Do you think that is ridicules? After all, our City Council keeps telling us that they want an upscale department store to anchor the downtown city center. As of yet, no upscale department store has shown an interest in setting up shop in San Ramon.
The demographics of San Ramon simply will not support an upscale department store, and the department stores know it. San Ramon buyers, while having significant income levels, are maxed out with high mortgages, and shop for the best deals possible. Blackhawk, a community with very high income levels had a major department store failure “when upscale Saks Fifth Avenue closed its compact but opulent store – its first in the East Bay – in early 1999 after being open only a year.” ref
So how does a Wal-Mart Superstore fit into the San Ramon landscape?
Forget the idea of a big sprawling box but think of the new upscale Wal-Mart Superstore like their prototype store in Plano, near Dallas Texas. “Wal-Mart is adding new products and revamping stores to catch up with competitors including Target Corp. and Issaquah-based Costco Wholesale Corp. that are winning customers with exclusive brands.” ref
What Would a Wal-Mart Superstore do for San Ramon?
This would likely result in the local Nob Hill store and all the other small retail shops in that shopping area being severally threatened to stay in business. The Target store adjacent to the new Wal-Mart would be severally crippled as well as all the little shops in that center. Competition in business is good, but when the supply and demand is way out of whack, the likelihood for urban decay and businesses going out of business is a very real probability. Not only would there be significant impact on the local San Ramon business community, but current traffic figures would have to be thrown out, because a store like Wal-Mart would bring in significantly higher traffic from all the outlying surrounding cities, and would likely draw the lower income crowd, which would be a major factor for the community at large.
Police services would likely have to be increased. The Iron Horse Trail would significantly be impacted. Safety of crossing Bollinger Canyon, Rd. will be a major issue for the Iron Horse Trail, which is being used more and more by the residents of San Ramon. The crowds at the San Ramon City Park basketball courts would significantly increase. With increased crowds comes an increase in the criminal elements. The skate park would be impacted. Actually, just about every city element is affected by this major influx of people traffic.
So, San Ramon City Council Members, be careful for what you wish for, because the very real possibility is you are going to get more than what you wished for, and you’re not going to like it. Think this can't happen in San Ramon? Read the Wal-Mart Watch
The High Cost of Low Price
Extra Extra Read All About It!
News from the Tri-Valley at the San Ramon Tribune online newspaper. Feel free to submit your news articles for consideration for publishing.