Thursday, December 2, 2010

Walmart : We Don't Need No Stinkin' Hearing in New York City

Walmart officials "have made it clear they intend to open stores in the five boroughs," says Crain's, and the City Council is doing the right thing by holding a public meeting about the store's potential impact on small businesses and the surrounding communities on Tuesday, Dec. 14 (details in the Brooklyn Eagle).

One potential location, the Gateway II complex in East New York, Brooklyn, has already received land-use approval.

But Steven Restivo, Walmart’s director of community affairs, told Crain’s the company didn't see the need for a council hearing.

“This hearing is particularly curious since it seems to ignore the fact that the city is already home to hundreds of stores similar to Walmart," he told Crain's.

Hundreds? What? Where?

The Neighborhood Retail Alliance (composed of mom and pop store owners) wants the City Council to reconsider the" myth" that the retail giant -- whether in the form of superstores or "Little Wallies" -- will be an overall plus for New York. They say that Walmart would have a negative effect on the city's supermarkets and the "immigrant business class" that is heavily represented in the food business here.

As part of a study, they've asked store owners to make lists of their local suppliers  -- meat and produce in particular -- and will contrast this "local nexus" (the Hunt's Point Market, for example) with the way Walmart brings much of its inventory in from outside the city.

They also point out tactics that have worked for Walmart in other cities. In Chicago, for example, Walmart created "a fake community group that purports to represent a community's residents and interests," according to Neighborhood Retail Alliance.

That's a tactic familiar to many Brooklynites, and it always seems to work.

According to NY1, Mayor Bloomberg -- who isn't bothered by the store's low wages and anti-union stance -- is in favor of Walmart coming in.

Photo by Robert Stinnett, Creative Commons license

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Anonymous said...

It's stupid to be uniformly against any and all Wal Mart stores. Wal Mart or any big box store is fantastic for low income neighborhoods because a) it brings hundreds of jobs, b) the "mom and pop" stores as quaint as that sounds only employ family not anybody else, have huge mark-ups and sell crap in the lower income neighborhoods. Why should poor people be left with whatever dregs those stores have managed to find cheap wholesale and sell at 100 times the cost? And no, I don't work for Wal Mart. I'm just capable of being a realist.

Anonymous said...

Walmart is a giant funnel -- it funnels our money and jobs to China. Low-paid workers make low cost stuff for unthinking Americans who put their neighbors out of business by buying from Walmart. No small local business person can compete against millions of desperate Chinese factory slaves working in lockstep. The Chinese goods Walmart sells are even more unfairly priced because of China's currency manipulation, which America can't do a thing about, apparently. Would I take a financial risk and start a small business knowing that a Walmart might be coming to town? NO WAY -- I'd be bankrupt in 5 minutes. Walmart's a steamroller, and it kills local initiative.