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2000-07-10
Wall Street: Home Depot Paints NYC Orange

In a self-congratulatory company press release, Home Depot announced today that it will tie a 2,200 s.f. orange apron to the columns of the "mighty" New York Stock Exchange to celebrate the opening of the 1,000th. Home Depot store. The press release says that Home Depot is the 3rd largest retailer, with FY 99 sales of $38.4 billion. That must be news to Sears, which is listed (see newsflash below) at $41 billion in sales and the 3rd largest retailer, according to the National Retail Federation. The NFR lists Home Depot as the 4th. largest retailer, so the point is made. CEO Arthur Blank says in the press statement that Home Depot will leave something behind for New Yorkers -- more than just a huge orange banner. "We didn't want to come to town and celebrate our good fortune without leaving somthing behind that would benefit our customers." So Home Depot, using materials donated by its vendors, will build 3 gazebos and donate them to the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. "The gazebos will be placed in city parks for everyone to enjoy," Blank said. So 1,000 American communities have had to put up with these enormous, dead pieces of architecture, consuming at least 25,000 acres of land, putting hundreds of smaller merchants out of business, importing vast quantities of foreign goods into the US economy, and all we get after 21 years of Orange Wars is 3 lousy gazebos? Home Depot HAS left something behind in its host communities, and that "gift" is what has prompted so many residents to take up sticks and stones to fight this 4th. largest retailer.

What you can do: Home Depot has promised to open 200 new stores this year. What their release does not mention is that in at least 50 to 75 or more of those locations, citizens will challenge the store's plans and slow down the production schedule for these new "units". More than ever, local communities are seeing Orange -- and are fighting back. Home Depot currently has dozens of battles on its hands, hand-built coaltions of citizens who object to Home Depot's size and scale of operations, and who challenge the unsubstantiated economic benefits of welcoming a Home Depot to town. In one recent example in Rutland, Vermont, Home Depot's own analysis of its economic impact suggested that the store would drain $13.6 million away from other businesses, shutting down 4 hardware stores and 1 building supply store in this small town alone. Another economist studying the Rutland project said the Home Depot would capture 45% of sales away from existing merchants. An economist hired by the state said the city of Rutland would see a loss of $50,000 to $75,000 a year in taxes once the Home Depot was in operation. And Governor Howard Dean has aid that the Home Depot in Williston, Vermont caused the closure of more than 20 stores in that trade area. That's a lot of gazebos. The green apron I wear to anti-Home Depto rallies says:"Home Towns, Not Home Depot." Three gazebos in New York City won't change anyone's mind about what Home Depot has done to communities across the country. Expect more visible, and more frequent opposition to Home Depot this year, as Wall Street and Main Street continue to hammer away at each other. The partying on Wall Street cannot hid the fighting on Main Street, USA.










 
 
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