Wal-Mart's Decision to Bypass Somerville: See What People Think
A group that organized against the retail company said its efforts paid off.
Ed. note: This story was updated at 11:05 a.m. on June 19 to include comments from Deanne Dworski-Riggs.
Rev. Molly Baskette, senior minister at First Church Somerville, said, "I'm very excited that Wal-Mart made this decision."
Baskette, a member of a group called The Somerville Coalition for a Responsible Walmart, which opposed plans for Wal-Mart to open a Neighborhood Market grocery store in Somerville's Assembly Square, was speaking of Wal-Mart's decision, announced Friday, not to pursue those plans.
Although Wal-Mart said it decided not to open in Somerville for business reasons, Baskette said she's "absolutely certain" the group's efforts influenced Wal-Mart's decision.
She said it represents "the power of committed local people" and that the retail giant "underestimated how powerful ordinary citizens can be."
Deanne Dworski-Riggs, a volunteer with Jobs for Somerville, agreed. It's "inspiring that our small community of Somerville ... were able to stand up to a large corporation like Wal-Mart and make them change their minds," she said.
Dworski-Riggs said her group is dedicated to insuring all companies in Somerville meet employment and labor standards, and "I certainly think it influenced [Wal-Mart's] decision" that such a group was organized in the city. She said the coalition was planning an informal victory party to celebrate Wal-Mart's decision.
Edwin Argueta, an organizer with Jobs with Justice, which helped organize the Somerville Coalition for a Responsible Wal-Mart, said, "This is what happens when the community comes together."
He also expressed disappointment that Wal-Mart didn't engage in a conversation with the community, he said.
Although Wal-Mart had expressed interest in opening a store at the vacant site of the former Circuit City in Assembly Square, it didn't make a formal application to the city.
What readers think
On Somerville Patch and Facebook, most readers seemed happy Wal-Mar decided to stay away from Somerville, but not everyone felt that way.
"All I can say is AMEN!" said Marie Manis, commenting on Somerville Patch.
"Personally, I think it is a blessing," said Michelle Trousil, commenting on the Somerville Patch Facebook page.
Ron Newman, also commenting on Facebook, said, "I'm glad to see Somerville avoid a nasty and divisive political fight over Wal-Mart. But the result is a still-vacant building, which isn't doing the city or anyone else any good."
Some invited Wal-Mart to open a store in a neighboring community. "Send it to Malden … Love that store," said David Mokal, commenting on Somerville Patch.
Carol, also commenting on the website and echoing one of Newman's concerns, said, "There are many people who do want to shop at Wal-Mart and save money. I hope they come to Medford … Our residents like to speak against big business and allow our valuable land sit vacant for months and years!"