Many cities would be cheering the news that Wal-Mart and one of its mega-controversial superstores had moved out of town before even unpacking its bags.

But in Garden Grove, a town always pressed for cash and respect, city officials and neighborhood business owners are mourning the big-box retailer’s abrupt departure — which occurred just days before city planners were to vote on the project.

 “It was cruel the way they did it,” said Garden Grove Councilman Bruce Broadwater. “They built people up and got the community really excited. Then they dropped the bomb on us and ran off.”

Unlike cities elsewhere — where the super-sized Wal-Marts are often viewed as a threat to local businesses — there was little opposition to the planned superstore in Garden Grove. To the contrary, some saw it as the cavalry coming.

No area is feeling the effects of Wal-Mart’s 11th-hour bolt more than the restaurants, dry cleaners and beauty salons at the business-starved southwest corner of Chapman Avenue and Brookhurst Street. Here, they were counting the days until the Wal-Mart Supercenter opened its doors and shoppers began returning to the long-neglected center.

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