Walmart to open 24 hours; compromise on hold
Photo: Video by kgun9.com
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Neighbors fearing disruption and crime from a big new Walmart at El Con Mall have fought to keep it from staying open 24 hours but Wednesday the company said that store will shift to a 24 hour schedule as soon as Monday.
Walmart had agreed to close at 11pm if neighbors dropped their objection to a beer and wine license here. The state liquor board torpedoed the compromise by refusing to okay the license. So now, Walmart's decided, it's going for 24 hours.
Walmart's been trying to open a store at El Con for at least 15 years. But residents in the peaceful old neighborhoods nearby opposed the store, worried the Walmart would bring noise and crime.
Eventually the chain was able to build the store and open it just two weeks ago.
But it can't sell alcohol. Neighbors convinced the state liquor board to deny a liquor license.
Councilmember Steve Kozachik brokered a compromise: drop the 24 hour schedule, and neighbors drop objections to beer and wine sales. But the liquor board said the denial still stands.
So with no compromise and no chance to sell alcohol, Walmart's going to a 24 hour schedule after all.
Walmart communications director Delia Garcia says, "It wasn't an easy decision knowing the conversations we had with the neighbors and all the work that has gone into reaching an agreement. Unfortunately because of the liquor board decision, it's really tied our hands and put us back at square one."
Walmart's agreement with the neighborhood also included a promise to not sell guns and ammunition at the El Con store. That part of the agreement will stand. Walmart says it had never planned to sell firearms and ammunition at that store.
Councilmember Kozachik is hoping Walmart will try to revive the compromise when it can re-apply for a liquor license in about a year.
"So they'll come back to the table with the understanding that the lay of the land is it's either going to be the shortened hours or the liquor and I think they'd probably recognize they'll make more off beer than they'll make selling potato chips at 3 am."
But Walmart says it won't speculate on what it will do when it can re-apply for a liquor license next summer.
We're still trying to hear more from neighborhood activists about what they think of Walmart going 24 hours. During the work day a lot of them are simply unavailable.