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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 , 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 . 

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!"

More on Wal-Mart's plans in Somerville

mplo June 20, 2012 at 08:17 PM
I, too am relieved that Wal*Mart isn't coming to Somerville. Their decision not to come here to Somerville came for a reason; they know they're not welcome here, with plenty of justification. I'm not sure whether or not IKEA's coming, but I do know that when an IKEA store opened down in Stoughton, it created massive vehicular traffic problems, as it has in many other places here in the United States where they've opened. Route I-93 has a terrific traffic problem to begin with, especially over in the Assembly Square area, and there's justifiable concern that having an IKEA Store there will only add to it. Let's see what happens with the IKEA store, however.
mplo June 20, 2012 at 08:24 PM
It's agreed that Somerville does need more jobs and income from businesses, Jo, but Wal*Mart just simply isn't the answer. As has been pointed out on a number of postings here about it, they're not welcome here in Somerville, and for perfectly legitimate reasons.
Adam November 02, 2012 at 05:31 PM
I think a Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market would be a great benefit to the community in terms of pricing and jobs.
mplo November 03, 2012 at 02:14 PM
I disagree, Adam. Wal*Mart has done almost uncalculable damage to every community that it's moved into, killing off other businesses (especially the small mom-and-pop businesses), and they abuse their workers regularly, because their labor policies are really, really rotten to the core. I'll also add that Wal*Mart's merchandise is cheap third-world junk, and their food is no bargain, either. You might want to rent the DVD version of the documentary film "Wal*Mart: The High Cost of Low Pricing", and, if possible, try to get hold of Bill Quinn's book "How Wal*Mart is Destroying the World, and What to Do About It". Both this film and this book provide an excellent insight to Wal*Mart's policies and merchandise, and why they're not welcome here in Somerville.
neil January 29, 2013 at 08:32 PM
Somerville already has a great locally owned low price supermarket in Demoula's Market Basket. Why would we want to bring in another large out of state chain with no local ties?

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