Guest Editorial by R. Todd Newman
Vote ‘Yes on Prop 400, Prop 401

September 30, 2009

todd newmanAs a home and business owner living in the town core of Cave Creek, I am keenly aware of how much our town is hurting for improvements to our economic engine. I have heard skeptics of Walmart and many opponents to commercial development suggest that a Walmart in Cave Creek will eliminate our eclectic ‘mom and pop’ stores and decimate small businesses in town. I respectfully disagree.

I hear over and over there are other ways than big box – I keep hearing it but I certainly don’t see anyone beating down our doors with money in hand to do it. I have listened to some proposals that suggest the Carefree Highway/Cave Creek corridor should be built out with small eclectic shops consistent with those in Cave Creek and not big box style stores or chains. Sounds great, unless you consider what is being said, “We will build out the commercial corridor of Cave Creek Rd. and Carefree Highway with small eclectic businesses that will be selling custom glass, original art, high-end furniture, specialty coffee, and unique restaurants. Well then what the hell happens to our town core? I think it will become a memory of the past with a couple anchor bars and restaurants where people can drink and commiserate about how good it used to be. Walmart will never compete with our specialty markets. Walmart is in the business of providing necessary goods to consumers at the lowest possible price – there are no stores in Cave Creek that carry generic items or electronic items that Walmart will provide.

As a business owner I believe the Walmart development is a positive step for our town. When I speak with other local business owners, my sentiment is reflected by their comments. Walmart has the potential to draw consumers from beyond our current reach and potentially brings more consumers closer to town and hopefully entices more to come to the town core and check out our funky eclectic stores and unique restaurants. If nothing else it adds to our sales tax base which we desperately need.

There are a few other real choices that I don’t like! Increase property tax or another increase in sales tax which hurts my family, my customers, my business, and consumer spending.

My family tries to support all the local unique restaurants, purchase fuel, food, art, and home décor from shops in both Carefree and Cave Creek. With the addition of Walmart we can shop for daily staples locally too instead of driving down to Scottsdale for Target, Costco, or Walmart, which we do multiple times per week.

Maybe you love them or you love to hate them, but voting “no” on either proposition guarantees our town will miss an opportunity to nearly double its sales tax, gain additional property tax, in addition to all the things not frequently mentioned like additional impact fees, building permits, construction sales tax, and the creation of jobs all with the addition of this store. Are there other choices that would be more palatable? To some, yes, but Walmart is the only one asking; they chose us. Here is a business that did studies and determined the demographics of this area make it an attractive place to build a store and has an economic base that will make it profitable. Not much different than Home Depot, Lowe’s, Albertsons, and Fry’s – all whom draw from a broader market base than the town they are built in.

I am not willing to gamble Cave Creek’s economy on a wish that someone else will come in or that Walmart will build somewhere else. Notice the corner directly to the southwest of the proposed Walmart development is up for sale. It is a county island that could easily be annexed by Phoenix. Walmart could end up not in our town, but right across the street and in our face – reminiscent of Home Depot isn’t it! I want to protect our “Town Core,” I like open space and “Sometimes, it is better to accept what one has than to try to get more and risk losing everything!” As a resident and business owner, I am excited at the possibility of Walmart providing our town with the daily essentials and the potential for the store to draw additional consumers to Cave Creek to shop at my store. I will vote ‘YES’ on propositions 400 and 401 and I encourage you to do the same.