Several Vermont communities face big box store proposals that threaten our downtowns and the surrounding landscape. By choosing to locate these superstores in farmfields outside of town, retailers are undermining our sense of community and the viability of downtown businesses.

Recent polls indicate this is not want Vermonters want. A 2004 poll indicated that more than 70% of Vermonters prefer to shop in their neighborhoods or in a nearby downtown or village center. Vermonters also most frequently say they want big box retail stores to be located in downtowns. The poll was conducted for Smart Growth Vermont by the Center for Rural Studies at the University of Vermont.

Collaborative Activities

The Vermont Smart Growth Collaborative is working to ensure big box retail proposals are the appropriate size and scale for Vermont communities.  The Collborative is currently:

  • Coordinating public outreach and education, including presentations addressing the impact of big box commercial development on downtowns and villages.  In St. Albans, the Collaborative is working with Northwest Citizens for Responsible Growth in fighting a proposal to construct a 160,000 square foot superstore.  In Bennington, we are working with citizens to address a proposal to construct a 112,000 square foot store.

Resources

Concerned about the impact of big box retail store proposals in Vermont?  Below are resources you can use to learn more about big box stores and find out how you can get involved in encouraging retail development that strengthens community cente

General Resources

An overview of economic/social impact of big box stores on local communities and associated links to additional relative literature:

http://www.newrules.org/retail/econimpact.html

Wal-mart

Primarily provides information on Walmart in the form of various articles, research and studies:

http://reclaimdemocracy.org/walmart/index.html

This website highlights the Vermont Natural Resources Council big box store initiative:

http://www.vermontwalmartwatch.org/

Sprawl Busters -- a list of a number of communities that have beat big box stores, including links to associated literature and case study information:

http://www.sprawl-busters.com/victoryz.html

Alternatives

The Preservation Trust of Vermont -- highlights plans for the St. Albans Wal-mart. This site includes articles on the recent issues, as well as simulated visuals for a down town alternative:

http://www.ptvermont.org/St.Albans/stalbans.htm

Rural Co-Ops: Saving Shopping Options -- Highlights several cases studies including the merchantile shop in Powell, Wyoming:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1391180

Powell Valley Economic Development Alliance spotlights the success of the merchantile shop as an alternative to big box stores:

http://www.powelled.org/success.html

The Casper Start Tribune article draws attention to the new merchantile shop as a "model for others":

www.casperstartribune.net/articles/2004/11/16/news/wyoming/c1d16119668eeda987256f4e0011b15a.txt

The Hometown Advantage -- cases studies of tax on big box stores including resource links:

http://www.newrules.org/retail/bigboxtax.html

American Independent Business Alliance:

http://amiba.net/