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Downtown efforts

Dear Editor:

Glad that efforts are underway to enhance our downtown area and hopefully preserve its natural beauty, to maintain and support those things that set us apart from other places. We have good businesses that provide our basic needs and even more. These folks have been here for us, have served our needs with sacrifice at times. I met a lady who has a timeshare — she was shopping at one of our resale stores.

She commented that she looks forward to shopping here when she comes because it is so easy — convenient parking, clerks ready to help and great prices. She hates the huge parking lots and big stores where she lives — our stores making shopping easy.

Yes, you know I am getting around to the potential of a Wal-Mart for Pagosa. That will be a shame. If folks support it, then these local businesses that have “been here for us” will suffer and probably shut down. Is that what we want? If that happens, then we will lose our “unique” image and simply become “just another Wal-Mart town.” If we don’t support them when they come and they have to give up, we will be left with a huge empty building that no one wants where there used to be a beautiful meadow. What to do?

Patty Tillerson

This story was posted on May 15, 2014.
  • Darrin Strickland

    Walmart did not shutdown many of the buisnesses on main street in Durango, Alamosa or even Farmington. Would a Walmart not make these buisnesses provide us with better service’s, and better item’s? Look at the service and quality of goods at Durango’s Walmart versus our Alco for Example. Some of our buisnesses may suffer for a short while until they can find a better buisness plan. I for one will always support a Walmart in town.

    • ajpagosa

      Good points, and here are some more.

      Walmart is not opening a store in Pagosa Springs with the idea of running local retail out of business. Quite the contrary. Walmart has access to zip code information from credit card sales in their Durango and Farmington stores. What led them to want to put a store in Pagosa was the fact that there is at least $30M/yr of Walmart sales to Archuleta County customer zip codes (from credit cards). And more that can’t be tracked form cash. Think about that for a minute, and consider this was several years ago in a recession.

      First off that is at least $1.2M/yr in lost sales tax revenue to the town and county (@ 4%). Second it means people are leaving Pagosa and AC to shop in Durango and Farmington either because it is cheaper or much of what they need is just not sold here. That means local merchants are not meeting customer needs now either in price or selection (to the tune of $30M/yr) and none of those extra sales were they to happen in Pagosa at a new store would take away from local merchants.

      Walmart also has insight into who is buying what at the other 2 stores, turns out a lot of them are…Archuleta County retail businesses reselling at a profit. So I find that rather odd that we’re supposed to protect local merchants from Walmart when apparently some of them are using Walmart as a wholesaler and are reselling stuff to us and tourists at higher prices. I doubt they will stop that if there is a Walmart here and in any case if any local merchant is depending on that to stay in business maybe a career change is a good idea, for everyone’s sake.

      All that aside if you consider the sales tax revenue, not just on the $30M retail sales we are currently losing from local residents, but the additional folks who would come in from Chama, Dulce, even South Fork and maybe even Creede, on balance this is a huge plus for the area. Heck we might even pull people from Bayfield and Ignacio for a day of outdoor recreation and shopping.

      Not to mention the fact that the cost of living here is unnecessarily high. Especially for full time mid and lower income residents for basic necessities like food. I do a once a month trip to Walmart just for groceries, the City Market prices are so high I save quite a bit even when gas is taken into account. I do not see Walmart competing with basic tourism, restaurants, hotels, real estate and most outdoor sports.

      Personally I’d like to see a Cabela’s and a Home Depot here too. There are some local merchants who think that they are owed a livelihood just by virtue of being in a resort town. Shoddy service and price gouging has been a staple of many tourist towns and we are not immune to that here. I would suggest folks whose business model is based on those principles ought to go under, the rest should thrive with the additional activity a Walmart would bring.

      Finally much of the criticism of Walmart, though wrapped up in apparent local pride, is really just socio-political elitism. Basically snobs who don’t want a Walmart messing up their precious resort area.

      The cities that stand the most to lose from a Walmrt coming here are Durango and Farmington, not Pagosa Springs.