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2007-03-28
New York, NY. Wal-Mart Finds A Worm In The Big Apple

Be careful what you bite off, Mr. Scott. It appears that Wal-Mart's CEO has found a big worm in The Big Apple, and the retailer is ready to toss that market away. Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott told the New York Times yesterday, "I don't care if we are ever here... I don't think it's worth the effort." Exactly what opponents were thinking as well. Scott shared that glum view with the editorial board of the New York Times. The paper called Scott's comments "a surprising admission of defeat, given the company's vigorous efforts to crack into urban markets and expand beyond its suburban base in much of the country." Wal-Mart clarified later that Scott was only referring to Manhattan. But organized labor has mounted a significant effort to stop Wal-Mart from locating anywhere in New York City. "We don't care if they're never here," said the executive director of the New York City Central Labor Council. "We don't miss them. We have great supermarkets and great retail outlets in New York. We don't need Wal-Mart." Thus far, every Wal-Mart attempt to enter New York City boroughs has failed: in Queens, and in Staten Island. In Queens, the developer unceremoniously dumped Wal-Mart from his project. Scott's assessment was so downbeat, that the retailer's spokesperson had to soften his statement around the edges. "Entering New York has been difficult, but not something we rule out," a Wal-Mart spokesperson told The Times. "Lee said he personally didn't care if we built stores there or not. It might be more trouble than it's worth, but that he would leave that up to the real estate group that makes these decisions." Scott apparently derided New Yorkers as "snobbish elites" the Times said, quoting Scott as saying, "You have people who are just better than us and don't want a Wal-Mart in their community."

What you can do: Urban markets have been tough areas for Wal-Mart to penetrate: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, New York, New Orleans -- all have stirred up considerable controversy. Controversy means lost time, lost sales, and a bigger development expense. According to Sprawl-Busters statistics, 47 Wal-Mart stores were stopped in 2006. This is unheard of for a retailer. A nuclear power plant -- yes. But a retail store? in many of these small towns, especially in right-to-work states, there is no organized labor -- only citizen's groups. Since Sprawl-Busters has been helping communities stop sprawl, for 14 years, Wal-Mart has become the most reviled retailer in the history of America -- outstripping even A&P in the late 1930s during the anti-chain store tax movement. The decision to pull back from Manhattan was not really Wal-Mart's -- it was a decision prompted by labor, community groups, the city council, and other elected officials who see Wal-Mart as an economic liability, not an economic plus. So Lee Scott did not reject New York, the Big Apple rejected Wal-Mart. For earlier stories, search Newsflash by "New York City."










 
 
"Norman has become the guru of the anti-Wal-Mart movement" ~ 60 Minutes

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