Wal-Mart Corp. has begun a “grass roots” effort to gather support from its Gilbert shoppers.
Thousands of red, white and blue mailers were sent to Gilbert homes townwide Saturday, asking residents who support the store to mail back their name and information to create a database of supporters.
Checked next to that request, the mailer asks residents “Please let the Mayor and Council know I support lower prices and more shopping choices for Gilbert,” and sign up for e-mail updates.
“Thousands of Gilbert residents support Wal-Mart,” the mailer states. “You Can, Too!”
It later adds, “Unfortunately, a relatively small group of opponents apparently do not want to see Wal-Mart expand in Gilbert.”
Keith Morris, an Arkansasbased spokesman for Wal-Mart’s southwest division, said the goal is to garner support for Wal-Mart in a developed town that has only one Wal-Mart store with a second in the planning stages.
“We’re taking proactive steps to start some outreach in the community,” he said. “So we can have an open line of communication when there is something to talk about.”
Names mailed back to the Friends of Wal-Mart, the name of the campaign run by the corporation, won’t necessarily be forwarded to the Town Council, Morris said. Residents could be contacted later, though, to judge their support for future projects proposed to the town, he said.
Amid protests, Wal-Mart has tried for a couple of years to build a scaled-down version of the usual 200,000-squarefoot facility in the Gilbert Town Square at Gilbert and Warner roads. Morris said the corporation is still redesigning plans for a facility there that have not yet been approved to resubmit to the town.
Some residents say the mailer irked them.
“I just thought it was invasive,” said Wendy Claytor, who sent the mailer back describing her disapproval of the company. “If thousands support it, then why are they having to send out for the handful that don’t?”