Everyone has an opinion on Walmart and the impact it has on a community whenever a new store is opened. But some residents of Kansas City suburb say a former city councilman went too far when he recently distributed a letter claiming that a new Walmart in the area would attract an undesirable element and ultimately result in a drop in property values.
According to the letter, property values aren’t going to be hurt by the mere opening of a mammoth big box store with an expansive parking lot. No, the real problem is that Walmart shoppers from other towns will be visiting little Fairway, KS.
See, the opening of the new store means an existing Walmart in a nearby town will be shuttered.
“When that happens all of their customers of the old store will shop at the new one,” he writes. “Our neighborhood will get noticed and some will want to move into it.”
The first part is a valid assumption; if your Walmart closes, you go to the nearest available store. The second point may be a bit of a stretch, as Walmarts are generally not located in areas that give casual passers-through a real feel for the local flavor. But still, it’s not inconceivable that some of the new shoppers might be taken with the town surrounding the new Walmart.
That is apparently an unpleasant notion to the former councilman.
“BE HONEST with yourself,” he continues. “Most of them are of a different class in that they do not feel the desire of a beautiful neighborhood and maintaining property values. When they move in we will start to see junk cars in disrepair in front yards along with other trash, and down will go the property values. Big time!!”
This letter, which was distributed on doorsteps and in mailboxes in advance of a recent community meeting, isn’t sitting well with some.
“I thought it was kind of offensive to the people it was directed at,” one 28-year resident of the town tells KSHB-TV. “Fairway has the laws in place that are going to protect our property values.”
One woman who has lived in the area for nearly 25 years called the sentiments expressed in the letter “odd and unfortunate” and said she “didn’t agree or quite understand where he was coming from on it.”
The author of the letter claims “There was nothing intended to be incendiary or offensive at all about it… I never intended that.”
Interestingly enough, a 2012 study found that homes located near recently opened Walmarts actually saw property values improve, though it’s worth noting that the study used real estate data from the height of the housing bubble, when home prices everywhere were skyrocketing.