Store foes: Downtown would suffer

STANWOOD – Kristine Kaufman and Chris Satterlund have gathered more than 3,000 signatures on petitions opposing Wal-Mart in Stanwood.

The co-owners of Snow Goose Bookstore in downtown Stanwood say they fear Wal-Mart will force many local merchants out of business.

A consultant for the city confirmed that as likely.

The Stanwood Planning Commission has scheduled a public hearing about a proposed zoning change that could pave the way for a new Wal-Mart.

The commission will listen to public comment at the hearing, which begins at 7 p.m. April 11 at Cedarhome Elementary School, 27911 68th Ave. NW.

A large retailer such as Wal-Mart would generate hundreds of millions of dollars in sales, but the consultant emphasized that net sales-tax revenue for the city would be much more modest.

That’s because most of the gains Wal-Mart would bring would come at the expense of other local businesses that could not compete. Subtracting those lost sales taxes, Wal-Mart’s net boost to the city would be $187,000 annually, according to the report.

Losing local businesses has other trickle effects. Local banks often get business from local merchants but not as often from corporate stores, opponents argue.

Such losses would undermine the city’s downtown revitalization efforts called Design Stanwood, opponents fear. At the same time Design Stanwood has been planning better signs, architecture and marketing to boost downtown, the city is courting corporate business that could gut the downtown business sector.

Even though Wal-Mart would add 200 jobs, Satterlund said wages would be low. Besides, she added, the consultant’s report found Stanwood’s job base and economy were relatively strong.

Rosanne Cohn, a Camano Island resident active with Design Stanwood, said the city needs to stay focused on helping small downtown businesses.

“One of my concerns is that the City Council is taking the cheap and easy way out,” she said.

Lawyers for the opponents wrote in a memo to the city that changing the zoning at that site runs counter to local and state anti-sprawl policies.

City planners recommended denying a similar rezone request at the same site in 2003. Downtown concerns were paramount.

“The impacts to downtown may be highly negative, resulting in an overall negative impact to the city in general,” according to the report.

Opponents are not taking the possible arrival of Wal-Mart lightly. Besides consulting lawyers, they have picketed at City Council meetings and along Highway 532. They’re even staging mock hearings to practice their public comments.

“This is way beyond David and Goliath. This is the largest corporation in the world,” Kaufman said.

Big box competition is nothing new for bookstores, she said. But Stanwood seemed a good spot to avoid it when they bought the store in 1998.

“We said smugly, ‘Well, the big box stores will never come here,’” Kaufman said.

Reporter Scott Morris: 425-339-3292 or smorris@heraldnet.com.

Talk to us

More in Local News

After escaping on Wednesday, an emu named Sarah has been safely returned to AJ's Acre, a farm located near the Alexander Road and the Mukilteo Speedway. (AJ's Acre)
An escaped emu is returned to its farm in Mukilteo

Missing since Wednesday, the female bird was noticed by a neighbor and safely recovered Saturday.

Frances McDormand in "Nomadland." (Searchlight Pictures) 20210304
Masked in a nearly empty theater, a movie outing at last

Just four of us were in the audience for a matinee showing of “Nomadland” at Stanwood Cinemas.

A Marysville Pilchuck football player sports a spear on his helmet as the Tomahawks took on Snohomish in the Wesco 3A Championship Friday evening at Quil Ceda Stadium on November 1, 2019. School district leaders may soon need to consider dropping Marysville Pilchuck High School’s mascot, the Tomahawks. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Should Marysville Pilchuck High drop the name ‘Tomahawks’?

A state bill would ban Native American mascots and symbols from schools — unless there is tribal permission.

Broadway closed after ‘small explosive device’ is found

The Everett Police Department bomb squad responded and “rendered it inert.”

Mark Mulligan / The Herald
Sunset Falls cascades down past the existing fish ladder along the Skykomish River east of Index, February 4, 2014.
Photo taken 20140214
New hatchery on Skykomish to end practice of importing fish

A plan to capture fish from Sunset Falls near Index and release them in the river is open for public comment.

James Myles walks his 5-month-old Pembroke Welsh Corgi Ellie around Martha Lake Park on Tuesday, March 2, 2021 in Lynnwood, Washington. Myles entered Ellie into a contest called Americas Favorite Pet, where she's currently in 2nd place for her group. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Vote for Ellie: Fluffy corgi from Lynnwood vying for top dog

“Her Fluffiness” is competing to be America’s Favorite Pet. The contest raised $300,000 for PAWS last year.

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee speaks with special ed Pre-K teacher Michelle Ling in her classroom at Phantom Lake Elementary School in Bellevue, Wash. Tuesday, March 2, 2021. (Ellen M. Banner/The Seattle Times via AP, Pool)
Governor: Educators are now eligible for coronavirus vaccine

“This should give educators more confidence,” Jay Inslee said. Other frontline workers could soon be next.

The Legislative Building is shown Friday, June 30, 2017, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. Details of a new two-year state operating budget were released Friday, the same day Washington lawmakers must vote on the plan in order to prevent a partial government shutdown. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Washington Senate approves new tax on high capital gains

The measure would impose a 7% tax on the sale of stocks, bonds and other assets in excess of $250,000.

Riaz Khan speaks at the groundbreaking at the site of the Islamic Center of Mukilteo that he helped spearhead over the last seven years on Saturday, March 6, 2021 in Mukilteo, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Ground is broken for Mukilteo’s own mosque

The Islamic Center of Mukilteo has been seven years in planning.

Most Read