The reaction to this week on Facebook to news that Walmart bought the Great Indoors site adjacent to the Empire Center was swift and firm: No thank you.
It appears that the main reason — outside the usual opposition to the company’s business ethos — was fears over the impact a behemoth retailer would have on the already congested portal to the Empire Center.
One commenter summed it up in his post: “We don't need more out-of-towners coming to our city and causing more traffic and taking up parking spots, especially at times like holidays.”
Such is the curse of Walmart — it’s a major tax-revenue generator, but with it comes all the trappings of a high-volume store: crowds, traffic, rough competition for small businesses. And given the lack of Walmart locations in Los Angeles or nearby cities, it’s a pretty sure bet that a store in Burbank would exponentially increase the number of shopping commuters who already come in for Ikea.
Walmart hasn’t even announced what it wants to do with the site, but clearly, the public relations race has begun. And given Burbank’s prickly “not in my backyard” disposition, the company would do well to engage the public in a dialogue from the get-go.