Manhattan Wins Out over Wal-Mart… for now.

walmart_spoof.jpgTHANK GOD!
Wal-Mart has announced that they have given up any hope they had of being able to open a store in Manhattan. This is tremendous news for us Manhattanites, as the Bentonville, Arkansas-based chain, which is the largest retailer in the world and the largest employer in the United States, has a reputation for moving in and ruining the town around it. While the sheer size and density of our island makes it unlikely that Wal-Mart would have nearly the effect here that a store would have in a suburb, it would certainly have had some effect on the neighborhood in which it resides.

Founded in 1962, the massive company has been called out on a number of issues… Most notably, their lean supply chain structure and buying power allows them to offer extremely low prices, and because they are a one-stop shop, their entry into a new region often spells doom for local retailers, downtown areas, and the local retail economy. They are also notorious for poor labor practices, with a 90% turnover rate in the first year of employment. And, the grass-roots labor organizations are also critical of the fact that most if not almost all of their products are sourced internationally, putting US jobs at risk.

I have been following Wal-Mart for a long time, and feel that this is a big win for NYC. I do wonder, though, if this is in fact permanent. Yes, NYC is expensive, but Wal-Mart is a massive company, so if they want to infiltrate the lucrative Manhattan market, I am sure they can figure out a way. If K-Mart has been able to do it, and Home Depot has been able to do it, and other big retail and grocery stores are able to do it (Toys R’ Us, Whole Foods, Filene’s, Bed & Bath, Container Store, BestBuy, etc), I am not sold that Wal-Mart won’t figure out a way eventually.

What do you think? Would Wal-Mart be good for the city?

Further Reading:
Short News
Wal-Mart Watch

Great Books:
How Walmart Is Destroying America And The World: And What You Can Do About It
The United States of Wal-Mart
Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price

[photo courtesy]

4 Comments so far

  1. KipEsquire (unregistered) on April 20th, 2007 @ 10:39 am

    Higher prices are a win? Less variety is a win? Abrogration of free markets and property rights is a win? Mob rule is a win?


  2. Ben K. (unregistered) on April 20th, 2007 @ 11:04 am

    Higher prices are a win? Less variety is a win? Abrogration of free markets and property rights is a win? Mob rule is a win?

    Terrible labor practices is a win? Driving out any semblance of mom and pop stores is a win? Disgusting, big-box takeovers of NYC is a win?

  3. Noah (unregistered) on April 20th, 2007 @ 12:01 pm

    YEAH, BEN! Way to go.

    Kip, obviously these things are not bad alone, but when you consider the death of localized merchants and the standardization of towns across America (Wal-Mart is not alone in the responsibility for this, but certainly a major contributor), and their horrible benefits and labor policies, those “wins” come at a major cost.

  4. Tony (unregistered) on April 20th, 2007 @ 8:44 pm

    Thank God there is not going to be a Walmart in Manhattan. We need to stick to these localized merchants. Now I have to go get my prescription at Duane Reade (pick any of the 138 stores in Manhattan), and some tools at True Value (pick any of the 20 stores in Manhattan), a sandwich at Cosi (pick any of the 17 stores in Manhattan), a new shirt from Old Navy (pick any of the 22 stores in Manhattan), buy a new DVD player from Best Buy (pick any of the 4 stores in Manhattan), that new bestseller book from Barnes & Noble (pick any of the 10 stores in Manhattan), and finish off with a coffee from Starbucks (more than you can count). I hope these guys will be able to compete if Walmart comes in.

    Stop by a mom and pop store tomorrow and ask a random employee (not a son or daughter of the owner) if they have healthcare or a 401(K) or if they make twice minimum wage.

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