It's not uncommon for a retailer to face resistance, sometimes strong, to opening a new store in a community. For the most part, the retailer makes its case to local government bodies responsible for approvals as it pursues its legitimate right to grow its business. Walmart knows all about opening stores in the face of local opposition. Trader Joe's — based on its relatively small store size and the fact that people have been known to start petitions to bring stores to their towns — probably not so much.
California, with its large population, is extremely important to Walmart's growth plans and the chain has continued to open stores despite facing fierce opposition from a variety of groups and politicians. The chain has been criticized for its labor practices, crime rates and for putting small mom and pops out of business.
In true Walmart fashion, the retailer recently published a study in California that concluded opening supercenters increased sales tax revenues and brought more jobs and small businesses to communities, particularly those in areas that were struggling economically.
In contrast, Trader Joe's recently found itself caught between warring parties in a local dispute in North Portland, OR. The chain was looking to open a store on a vacant lot in an Urban Renewal Area. In the end, Trader Joe's decided to look for less contentious pastures.
The chain issued the following statement: "We open a limited number of stores each year, in communities across the country. We run neighborhood stores, and our approach is simple: If a neighborhood does not want a Trader Joe's, we understand, and we won't open the store in question."
How important a factor in deciding to open is opposition from local groups when a retailer believes a given location will result in high volume sales?