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Walmart Grand Opening Attracts Customers, Protestors

Some locals were lined up with shopping carts, while others waved protest signs.

The Wednesday morning drew a crowd of people—and by 8 a.m. some were already lined up outside the doors ready to shop, while a few yards away others had gathered in the parking lot to protest the store’s arrival in their community.

The Encinitas Walmart is the county’s first new store in seven years, and of its approximately 250 employees, 90 percent are new hires, said store manager Lisa Rivera. During Wednesday’s ribbon cutting ceremony, representatives from the Walmart Foundation presented $12,500 in donation money to Encinitas schools and community groups (a complete list is at the end of the story).

“This is just the beginning,” Rivera told the Walmart employees at the grand opening. “We will definitely make this store an impact on this community.”

The Encinitas Chamber of Commerce and a handful of dignitaries were on-hand to welcome Walmart, including Encinitas Mayor Jerome Stocks, who applauded the retailer for providing “sales tax revenue that pays for our public safety, parks, and all the other things we do.”

Stocks was joined by Council members James Bond and Kristin Gaspar.

Sherry Hodges, a candidate for the 76th State Assembly District seat, echoed that stating that it was great to live in a “nation that allows free enterprise to prosper.”

The 92,024-square-foot Walmart, which is housed in , has been surrounded by controversy since its opening

“This doesn’t fit into our community’s character,” said protester Olivier Canler.  

Just over his shoulder, someone waved a sign that read: "Encinitas wanted a movie theater but all we got was this Walmart."

“There should have been more discussion about this at the city level and the public should have had time to vet the issue," Canler said. "We understand you can’t interfere with free enterprise, but you can give incentives for certain kinds of businesses to open.”

Many of the protesters said they would have rather seen a business where families can hangout, , bowling alley or gaming center. They also said while they agree Walmart will drum-up a steady stream of revenue, they think it will be at the cost of nearby mom-and-pop shops.

A few protesters who said they owned independent local businesses also declined to go on the record, be photographed and even covered their license plates for fear that if there identities were revealed, there might be negative repercussions from the mayor and his supporters.

When asked for a response, Stocks later told Patch he did not know how to respond to “anonymous persons expressing irrational fear,” but said based on all of the shoppers lined up outside, he felt the protestors “seem pretty out of touch.”

“This is America. If that person wants a movie theater or a bowling alley, pull a permit, invest the money, and open one," he said. "Nobody is stopping them."

The Encinitas Walmart includes groceries, a pharmacy, a photo service counter and more than 30 merchandise departments, such as apparel and accessories, a garden center, and electronics. It is located at 1550 Leucadia Blvd. It is open every day from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.

The list of Encinitas schools and groups to receive money from the Walmart Foundation include:

Group Amount

Diegueno Middle School

$1,000

Flora Vista Elementary School

$1,000

Encinitas Kiwanis Club

$2,500

Boys and Girls Club of San Dieguito  

$1,500 Friends of the Encinitas Library $1,500

Magdalena Ecke Family YMCA

$5,000

For more information about Walmart, you can visit walmart.com.

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Lynn Marr June 15, 2012 at 08:45 PM
We have driven out to a Walmart, but rarely. I am aware of many challenges associated with the chain, including inadequate healthcare for workers. If we, in the U.S., had some kind of system of national healthcare, ALL BUSINESSES, could benefit, and many jobs would NOT be exported to China and other countries, including Mexico and Canada, our neighbors that do provide universal healthcare. I agree with other posters; what's most concerning is the lack of public process, including NOTIFICATION of the planned occupation of existing retail space by Walmart. Notification could be required for new business concerns that would have an effect on traffic, for example, even if it's not new development, but redevelopment into a more intensive retail use. I also agree that Lisa Shaffer and Tony Kranz would be welcome additions to our City Council. It is important to those of us who have been paying attention, involved in local politics, that we do DUMP STOCKS. Our current mayor has engaged in a pattern of bullying by not adhering to process, not following State Law with respect to the Brown Act, and not encouraging public participation, government openness and accountability to the citizens of Encinitas. Telling to me is that many people protesting fear retaliation by the City. This further demonstrates that those who are paying attention, who are involved, are well aware of these bullying tactics, and the poor leadership demonstrated by our current mayor, Stocks.
patrick oconnor June 16, 2012 at 09:47 PM
All retailers should have access to open markets if they abide by law and meet municipal standards. The market will define success or failure not some political correct opposition. Political accuracy at Walmart means I can buy a pair of "Wrangler" jeans for $19.95. Beat that.
Rick June 17, 2012 at 12:42 AM
Why are people suggesting a movie theater? You had one (Wiegand), a few blocks away, you didn't go, and it went out of business. As for blaming Stocks, why not blame Obama too. Wasn't this mostly a planning and permit department thing? They let Home Depot and Target in, why not Walmart?
Lynn Marr June 17, 2012 at 07:52 AM
I don't blame Stocks for Walmart. If those who had contacted the Planning and Building Departments with their concerns, had asked to be notified when WalMart pulled a permit, or if staff had notified those on a list who had contacted City Hall about a potential Walmart, then I feel people would have felt more included in the process. Under Stocks and the previous council majority of him, Jim Bond (not running again after 5 terms in office: too long) and discredited ex Mayor Dan Dalager, convicted, after a plea bargain of conflict of interest, our city government has NOT been open and accountable to the citizens. The Brown Act, for open government has been repeatedly violated, under Stocks mayorship. Stocks has not followed parliamentary procedure and Robert's Rules of Order. Some say all politics are local. Throwing in Obama to the local situation is a red herring, Rick. It's easy to pass the buck to planning, but the truth is, right now, Stocks has been running the show, setting the agenda, and setting a tone of non-disclosure . . .
Mum June 17, 2012 at 06:55 PM
Good point. They at least could have squeezed them on behalf of the town. Because I'm sure city hall got theirs... I couldn't care less about Walmart. A movie theatre would have been nice. But that's hard ball right? If you really care don't shop there. Vote out the incumbents...tell your friends.

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