Our Work

Wal-Mart Endangers Vermont

Updated February 7, 2008

Wal-Mart is back. Not content with its four stores in Bennington, Berlin, Rutland and Williston, Wal-Mart has set its sights on building more than half a dozen new big boxes across the state. Plans for new stores are on the table in Bennington, St. Albans, and Derby. They have looked into new stores in Morrisville, Rutland, St. Johnsbury, and Middlebury as well.
In the mid 1990s when Wal-Mart sought to build in a farm field outside the city of St. Albans they were denied due to the adverse economic impact the retailer would have on local businesses and the economy. Now, however, they are back with the hope of building a 160,000 square foot store in the same location. VNRC is working closely with a citizens group in St. Albans to press hard for a downsized, downtown location but Wal-Mart has refused to adjust its one-size-fits-all business model. Wal-Mart’s other plans call for more than doubling the size of their current store in Bennington and building a 150,000 square foot store in the rural, remote Northeast Kingdom town of Derby.

How and where Wal-Mart and other big box stores come into Vermont will have long-term consequences for the people and places where they locate. To avoid the high cost Wal-Mart can have on communities, VNRC has been working hard on a variety of fronts.
In the fall of 2005, VNRC joined forces with the Vermont Livable Wage Campaign and Vermont Workers Center to advance a “Higher Standards for Big Box Campaign.” The goal of the partnership is to draw together the interests of businesses, workers, environmentalists, and Vermonters seeking access to affordable goods to thoughtfully address this important issue. Read more about this partnership here.
Community-owned retail stores are also promising. Also known as ‘mercantiles,’ this alternative allows communities to offer much needed goods at affordable prices on their own terms. Read more about mercantiles and the success they are having in communities across the country here.
Through these and other efforts, VNRC is working to hold Wal-Mart accountable to high environmental, land use and community standards. With innovation, viable solutions, and increasing public pressure, we are convinced we can achieve a better way of doing business in Vermont. Stay tuned…