Good Growth DeKalb Explains Local Walmart Support Claims

Out of 1,457 households the protest group approached in the area, just 60 said they supported the construction of a Walmart Supercenter in Suburban Plaza.

How many people in the Decatur/North Druid Hills area support the ?

It's not a question easily answered, but on Aug. 8, Good Growth DeKalb, which is protesting the construction of the retail store, said they figured it was about 5 percent.

From a press release they sent out:

In the last 8 months, Good Growth DeKalb has done extensive neighborhood canvassing and found that 75% of residents are opposed to Walmart and only 5% are in favor, with the remainder neutral or undecided.

North Druid Hills-Briarcliff Patch asked the group last week to explain how they arrived at those percentages. We'll let you judge the explanation.

In short, the group canvassed across several neighborhoods on five different days spread out between late March and mid-May, according to Jennifer Ceraso, a Good Growth DeKalb organizer. In total, the group said its members spoke with 1,006 households. The results:

  • 785 households said they were against the construction.
  • 60 said they were OK with it. 
  • 161 were undecided. 

Here's more detail on where the group canvassed, according to an email from Ceraso:

We canvassed the following neighborhoods: Medlock Park, Clairemont Heights, Decatur Heights, Great Lakes, Clairemont Rd, Scott Blvd., Sycamore Drive, North Decatur Road, Superior Rd., Landover, West Ponce, Church Street, Adair, Drexel.

We chose neighborhoods that would be most affected by the Walmart, and identified major streets within those neighborhoods.  After long consideration, we felt these streets were the best and most honest representative sampling of the affected radius.

So, when Good Growth DeKalb says only 5 percent of the surrounding area supports the construction of a Walmart, that's the data they're referring to. There are areas farther away that might have more respondents who support the construction, and, as Ceraso said, the canvassing was clearly focused on areas that would be most impacted by the opening of a Walmart.

What do you think about these numbers and Good Growth DeKalb's claims? Tell us in the comments section below.

Lucas Roberts August 28, 2012 at 11:14 AM
Why can't we, as a community that oppose something so much, do anything? This happens everywhere from Walmart in Decatur to Family Dollars in the City of Atlanta. Why don't big businesses take pride in there standing within the community?
Deanne August 28, 2012 at 11:50 AM
1006 is a pretty small sampling for making assumptions about how a community feels about Walmart—there’s 575 doors in Decatur Heights alone. And Sycamore Drive was definitely a hit and miss effort. Quite a few neighbors were looking forward to sharing their opinions with Good Growth Dekalb, but weren’t canvassed.
Sally August 28, 2012 at 12:13 PM
I don't think I'm going to trust a survey done by this group. This type "survey" or sampling should be done by a disinterested party. CLEARLY, this group is not. Shame on you for even publishing it.
Deanne August 28, 2012 at 01:25 PM
Aw now, don't be scolding Jonathan for having Good Growth Dekalb account for the info behind the percentages-- I know I sure appreciate him doing it! Now folks can factor GGD's explanation into their overall assessment of the group.
Stray Dog August 28, 2012 at 01:43 PM
The two young people who came to our door were very enthusiastic and dynamic but did not know basic facts about the local context. They were not equipped to hold a rational conversation about the topic. I was tempted to say yes just to get them off my property. I just said not interested.
Tammy August 28, 2012 at 01:55 PM
It does not matter how many people want it. Walmart is coming, like it or not and many people will shop there.
Jonathan Cribbs August 28, 2012 at 03:00 PM
Whoa. Couple things, Sally. I understand your concerns, but the purpose of this post is not to legitimize or support Good Growth DeKalb's claims. It's simply to explain them. A few weeks ago, they said something very simple: that 75 percent of the people they spoke did not support the construction of a Walmart and only 5 percent did. I just wanted them to explain how they arrived at those numbers. The story isn't an endorsement. The only reason you were able to arrive at your opinion about that "survey" is because I gave you the information about how Good Growth DeKalb conducted it. That was my goal. You're free to judge it for yourself. Let's cool it on the "shame" accusations.
Biker DOG August 28, 2012 at 03:07 PM
I did not get to take the survey I was slow to the door I thought it was just another kid trying to sell magazines or something. What were the questions, how were they phrased or posed. It needs to be a little more scientific, anonymous, and independent. This subject can be a hot button for some neighbors. Was the survey constructive and balanced. Was there the ability give a comments. Most people dislike the door to door sells people like me. I would like to see a really good independent survey with demographics that addresses more than just Walmart. There is more to the development than Walmart. This is the question and this is how people responded by male, female, age, where they live in relationship to the development. The person next door will have a different view than a person a few miles away. What is your major concern? Some concerns have to be addressed by County, State, and City officials and are out of the scope or control of a developer or a business. Good growth means improving everything and developing a plan to achieve it and finding out what our neighbors would like and how to address their concerns.
Helen Lenkerd August 28, 2012 at 03:15 PM
No one approached me. I live on Schoel Dr., and DO want Walmart to come! Does my vote count? Helen
Jo August 28, 2012 at 03:29 PM
They didn't canvas my home but I am opposed to WM at that location. I see "supporters" posting on the Patch, but of the neighbors I've discussed it with (in Medlock and Clairemont Heights) I don't know anyone who supports it at that particular location.
GES August 28, 2012 at 03:57 PM
I own a house on Ferndale Drive and no one asked me. I believe Walmart would be a great fit for the suburban shopping center. Most people in my neighborhood do not answer their door when a stranger knocks. Also, their would not be many Pro-Walmart responses when you are clearly talking to a Anti-Walmart Activist, the person may fear of a long conversation with the activist or retaliation later on! I have listened to a couple of these Anti-Walmart Activists and they just seem a bit crazy to me. I rather not have them on my property at all!
S Alan Fann August 28, 2012 at 04:33 PM
The percentages are slightly off on both counts from their sampling effort. It is hard to know whether the sample is representative - we could better say how representative the sample is by having a description of respondents and methods used for getting "responses." Good Growth DeKalb should be applauded for their efforts to have the community be both involved and informed of the likely impact of yet another Walmart opening in greater Decatur. On the positive side, the development presents an opportunity for revitalization of Suburban Plaza. Whether it is a net gain depends upon how many small businesses experience a decline in customers from the undercutting that Walmart is known to do. Our best hope is that Walmart will make concessions to the Suburban Plaza environs and community that will provide an enduring benefit, barring a choice to NOT open a store where a need remains to be demonstrated. Walmart is poised to remain the primary winner and beneficiary from this opening, unless the community and representatives of Good Growth DeKalb demand and insist that harms are minimized and mitigated through negotiated concessions such as emphasizing principles of design defined by the Living Building Challenge (http://challenge.bfi.org/Winners/Challenge_Winners/2012) and efforts to support community involvement that might include a review panel or planning council to be involved in the development, rollout and ongoing operations of the "supercenter."
Russ August 28, 2012 at 05:46 PM
If the vast majority don't want Wal-Mart, then they shouldn't shop there when it opens. When Wal-Mart doesn't have any customers, they will close up shop! Problem solved! Unless, of course, this survey is biased... But that would mean a vocal minority is trying to impose their will on the silent majority... but that never happens!
MrMatt August 28, 2012 at 07:01 PM
Thank you S Alan Fann for a reasonable, rational comment. GGD would do well to adopt a more rational tone, and begin working with Selig and WM to influence the design and minimize negative impacts. Then work on influencing the political process to alter zoning rules, permit applications, for future development. Unfortunately, GGD often comes across as despising big business, foreign-made goods, and global capitalism - which is all fine and dandy, but unfair criteria for determining who should occupy Suburban Plaza. Smacks of discrimination, in a business-kind of way.
Eric Benjamin August 28, 2012 at 07:18 PM
I negotiate for a living. GGD needs to identify what they want in concessions, prioritize the list and sit down with WM officials and try to work out a win-win. WM has done their homework and they know the traffic counts and demographics/income levels of the area surrounding the proposed store. GGD can make it easy WM to build an acceptable store or raise funds and start filing lawsuits. WM is well aware of these options, but they won't spend money above and beyond what the county requires unless hit with the carrot/stick approach. Just my .02
Michael de Give August 28, 2012 at 09:20 PM
Good Growth DeKalb is planning a really exciting, fun, love-Decatur fundraiser on September 29th at the Beacon Hill Arts Center in Decatur! We will have many well-known Decatur musicians performing as well as a silent auction! Come show your support. Even if you are pro Walmart, you are welcome to come and mix. We welcome civilized debate. We are not dangerous as some would have you believe.
prettyflower August 28, 2012 at 10:41 PM
This sounds like sage advice to me.
S Alan Fann August 28, 2012 at 10:56 PM
Not entirely "problem solved," as the neighborhood would then be left with an empty big (supercenter size) ugly box, UNLESS care is taken with the design on the front end. (Nevertheless, I do agree with boycotting, should they open their doors.)
David D August 29, 2012 at 11:35 PM
Eric, that would be a rational approach....if GGD hadn't alienated WM, Selig and neighbors who recognized early on that working with the developer would be the adult approach. I saw the negativity first hand from the get-go and find no redeeming value with the subsequent actions of GGD. Indeed, I'm sick and tired of the my-way or the highway approach. I don't like WalMart but applaud the proactive neighborhood leaders who already are working with Selig and find no value with the GGD approach. As far as I'm concerned GGD has no legitimate claim to speak for the communities surrounding Suburban Plaza.
Sally August 30, 2012 at 12:04 PM
There is a neighborhood group working with WalMart on a rational basis? That is great news. WalMart is going to improve the looks of that community. Even if no one shops there (but they will) and the store closed down. That center will look better than it does now.
Sally August 30, 2012 at 12:07 PM
Jonathan, I arrived at my conclusion about this group long before you gave them this publicity on these %'s. I missed the 75% claim, but believe me, I didn't need them to explain to me how they arrived at this number to know it was crap.
Ledbetter September 06, 2012 at 12:35 AM
I agree but who would fund it? DeKalb County has no money. The people have no money. Many leaders of neighborhood associations crawled in bed with Walmart and Selig. Selig and Walmart's study would be biased. Would love to hear ideas!
Ledbetter September 06, 2012 at 12:56 AM
If you are scared of your neighbors, maybe you live in the wrong neighborhood for you. I believe you would be surprised about the crazy activists if you went to a meeting. I went and mostly it was young couples, retirees and a few people in between who are earnest and concerned. None of them scared me and they wouldn't have reason to retaliate. They are people who don't want the development for a variety of what sounded reasonable to me: lack of a traffic plan approved by the state, Walmart's history of wiping out Main Street, the noise caused by trucks delivering to the store night and day, Walmart's recent foreign corruption problem, concern about property values and so on.
Tom September 06, 2012 at 01:04 AM
Walmart will bring more criminals from Scottsdale and Memorial Dr. Prepare to open up your wallets to criminals in the Walmart parking lot...
Ledbetter September 06, 2012 at 01:08 AM
In response to many of the comments, I don't know if negotiating is the way to go. It sounds nice but Deanne & friends are already working on that front. Don't the people who don't want the Walmart have the right to organize and express their opposition? Think of what would be lost if people didn't sometimes stand firm. (yes, on the other hand, we can also think of gains in compromise). However, communities that turn away Walmart have groups like Good Growth DeKalb that refuse to cave. So the group is taking the right tactic for their goal of no Walmart at Suburban Plaza.
Kat September 06, 2012 at 01:11 AM
What!!! People are going to drive from Arizona to shop at Suburban Plaza Walmart?? Scottsdale is in Arizona. Scottdale is in Georgia, between Decatur and Clarkston, and to label those who live there as criminal is as wrongheaded as not knowing the name of the area.
Sally September 06, 2012 at 11:15 AM
Even if WalMart closed their doors because of lack of business (which won't happen I predict, by for argument sake), the shopping center will be a better place. The work that will be done before it opens will definately improve the looks of that center. You act as if they are starting from scratch. They are not. They will improve that center.
Sally September 06, 2012 at 11:16 AM
Well, I do give you credit for admitting that it's all about Walmart.


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