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Walgreens no problem for council candidates
All four say residents should take their business elsewhere if they donít like chain stores.
By Benjamin Graham, Jackson Hole, Wyo.
Date: October 31, 2012
The four candidates running for Town Council said they wouldn’t stop chain stores, such as a Walgreens proposed for West Broadway, from coming to Jackson.
But candidates Phillip Cameron, Jim Genzer, Hailey Morton and Jim Stanford had different opinions on the value franchises pose to Jackson residents and on how local businesses should be promoted.
Questions about box stores and a proposed 13,328-square-foot Walgreens for the corner of West Broadway and Budge Drive arose at an election forum Oct. 17.
“I think it sets a really dangerous precedent,” to try to block Walgreens, Cameron said at the forum.
“I think that door has already swung open,” he said Monday. “We already have a number of regional and national franchises in town.”
Residents can promote local businesses by choosing not to shop at chain stores, said Cameron, who placed third in the primaries.
“I don’t see it as the council’s place to obstruct that,” he said.
The council can make sure the aesthetics of a store match that of town, he said.
Stanford held similar views.
“It’s a free market,” said Stanford, the third-place primary candidate, said. “I think the horse has gone out of the barn on trying to keep chain stores out of Jackson.”
Still, national franchises won’t necessarily be successful in Jackson, he said.
“I’ve seen chain businesses come and go in this community,” Stanford said. “Just because one opens, doesn’t mean it’s going to be a slam dunk.”
He cited Kentucky Fried Chicken, Polo and Arby’s.
Like Cameron, Stanford said it would be up to consumers to “vote with their dollars.”
“If you don’t like these types of chain businesses,” he said, “don’t shop there, don’t spend your dollars there. “I don’t think you’re going to be able to buy your elk tag at Walgreens.”
Morton, the top vote getter in the primary election, said that she probably would shop at Walgreens if it came to town and that she wouldn’t obstruct the approval of such a store.
“For Walgreens, it’s not a huge building,” Morton said. “It does, I think, serve a purpose for the community.”
But the council can ensure that the building matches the look and feel of town, she said.
The proposed Walgreens was shot down in October by the town of Jackson’s Design Review Committee because of its appearance. The developers will come back to the committee with a different proposal in November.
“When we move forward with more LDRs to reflect the comp plan, we can make it more clear cut,” Morton said of design standards for new development in town.
“I want to keep it a level playing field for all businesses,” she said.
Genzer isn’t a fan of having more stores like Walgreens in town but said he wouldn’t oppose them.
“Personally, I don’t like the idea of the big-box stores,” Genzer said.
But the council shouldn’t block particular businesses from coming to town and serving the community, he said.
“As long as they’re attempting to fit into the community, I don’t think there’s anything we can really do about it,” Genzer said.
New stores should blend in with town’s Western atmosphere, he said. He prefers “log accents.”
The personalized service of locally owned and run stores will help them survive, he said.
The candidates are competing for two open seats on the council. General elections take place Nov. 6.