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Wal-Mart employees get word out on Measure B

February 05, 2002|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart is paying employees of its Calexico store to walk door-to-door here and get the word out about Measure B.

The associates are trying to make sure people realize that a vote "No on Measure B" is a vote in favor of a new Wal-Mart super center.

Wal-Mart Manager Phil Aubry said some local voters are confused about the yes/no aspect of the measure on the March 5 ballot.

"One of the things we have to counteract is that some voters who voted absentee voted ‘yes' thinking that's the right thing to do. We had to tell them a ‘no' vote is for us to get a super center," Aubry said.


Joe Moreno of Apple Market-Super Shopping spelled it out for local voters Monday.

"A ‘yes' vote is in support of the Calexico City Council's decision to ban stores larger than 150,000 square-feet that devote more than 7.5 percent of their floor space to groceries," he said.

"A ‘no' vote is a disagreement with the council's decision," Moreno added.

On Jan. 16, 2001, the City Council passed an ordinance at the urging of the city's grocers to ban a corporation such as Wal-Mart or Kmart from opening a "big box" super center that would offer discount groceries. The grocers argued a big box super center would undercut prices of the downtown Calexico supermarkets.

Later that year, Wal-Mart paid its associates to gather enough signatures on petitions to force the council to either overturn its ordinance or put it up for an election.

The council decided to place a measure on the March 5 ballot after Wal-Mart agreed to waive its right to an immediate special election.

With the election coming up in about a month, the campaign for and against Measure B is heating up.

Wal-Mart paid for bilingual flyers that detail "No on Measure B" platforms.

The company is not using phone surveys.

Aubry said he doesn't know when the store would expand if it wins permission to do so from the local electorate.

"That wouldn't be my decision. If it was up to me we'd expand next week. Have you been in here on a Saturday?" Aubry asked.

While some companies have seen a drop in business since Sept. 11, dovetailing with a nationwide economic slump, Wal-Mart has actually gained a larger share of the consumer dollar locally and nationwide.

"We did pretty well," Aubry said.

Moreno and a cadre of grocers think the store is doing well enough. They aren't giving up in their fight to keep Wal-Mart the size it is now.

"We meet every week and put our thoughts together," he said.

>> Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or

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