Several businesses, PTA groups, local non-profits and concerned citizens wanted to stop the development of a proposed Wal-Mart Super Center in suburban Shelby County, TN to protect their community from the perceived negative effects that a big box supercenter would bring to their neighborhood.
We first performed research to verify the effects a supercenter would have on the surrounding neighborhoods and the community at large. We also began discussions with the local county commission - the body that would ultimately decide the matter - to determine their views on the development. Based on our initial research, our organizers decided that a grasstops/digiroots approach had the highest chance of success. This method would require bringing multiple areas and groups together, developing a volunteer recruitment initiative, and creating an earned media plan to build public awareness. To support our proposition, we also brought in experts to conduct studies on infrastructure improvements and likely effects on the county tax base, should the supercenter be approved.
Fifty-four community organizations representing every County Commission district were brought together in support of this effort, yielding a petition drive with over 6,000 signatures. This groundswell of activity provided ample support for our lobbying efforts and, in conjunction with the research that was conducted, prevented the Wal-Mart Supercenter from developing the suburban site. National media indicated that this effort was one of the first times the retail giant had lost in the South.