Developer Says Wal-Mart Won’t Scale Down Proposed Store in St. Albans

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(Host) The developer of a proposed Wal-Mart in Franklin County says the company has told him it will not scale down the size of the store. Wal-Mart is seeking local and state approval for a 150,000 square foot outlet in St. Albans Town.

Speaking Thursday night on VPR’s Switchboard, developer Jeff Davis said the company has told him it won’t build a smaller store. And Davis says communities like Saint Albans and Bennington which are seeking to limit the size of future retail outlets to 50,000 square feet are essentially locking out the large national chains.

(Davis) “Again, I don’t speak for Wal-Mart but our daily interaction with major discount retailers such as this, they have no interest in stores of that size. They’ve tried it here and elsewhere and I think if they were interested, you’d see them moving into those situations and they’re just not doing that.”

(Host) Davis says the Wal-Mart proposed for Saint Albans will draw business to the area and keep local shoppers from going elsewhere.

But Steve Holmes of the Vermont Natural Resources Council says the proposed store will have a negative economic impact and will create significant traffic and environmental problems. Holmes says VNRC favors a smaller store closer to an existing downtown.

(Holmes) “VNRC is not opposed to a Wal-Mart or a Target or any other large discounter, we’re concerned about the scale and the location. If those kind of stores can come to Vermont and fit in the Vermont landscape and do it the Vermont way, we would probably be working with them.”

(Host) Holmes says the Wal-Mart in downtown Rutland is an example of how the retailer can successfully operate a store smaller than the one proposed for St. Albans.

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