Wal-Mart's Leslie Dach, probably overcompensating for being given a less than masculine moniker, is now doing a little premature chest thumping about Wal-Mart coming to NYC: "Wal-Mart Stores Inc. won the right to open two more stores in Chicago this year, but does that mean the world’s largest retailer can eventually take Manhattan? In remarks at the start of a two-day analyst meeting, Leslie Dach, Wal-Mart’s executive vice president for government affairs and corporate relations, said the retailer’s reputation has shown improvement with both consumers and elected officials. The improvement for Wal-Mart, which has long been a target for critics that complained about the level of pay and benefits it offered employees, its impact on competitors and other issues, has made it easier for the company to win approval for new stores, Dach said."
Coming off a penetration of the Chicago market, Dachs is feeling ebullient about the Walmonster's NY prospects: "Wal-Mart won Chicago City Council approval this summer to open two new stores in the city after satisfying a key union group’s concerns over wages. Dach was introduced by the Wal-Mart Associates Choir singing “My Kind of Town,” the tribute to Chicago made popular by Frank Sinatra. His presentation ended with the choir singing another Sinatra staple, “New York, New York,” an apparent tongue-in-cheek nod to speculation of where Wal-Mart might want to eventually expand as it looks to bring more stores to densely populated urban areas in search of sales growth."
How about a chorus of, "Take This Job and shove It?" But clearly Dach is alluding to the sub rosa deal that the company apparently has with the Related Company to tenant the expanded Gateway Estates Mall in East New York-although he attempts to downplay the significance of his serenade: "Wal-Mart has no stores in New York City, while rival discounter Target Corp. penetrated the Manhattan market with a store in Harlem earlier this year after 13 years of trying to open the site. Dach followed up the singing of New York, New York with a disclaimer. “Any relationship between our choice of songs and any actual political strategy is purely fictional,” he said."
Still, even a smug and cocky dude like Dach knows that NY ain't Chicago: "But Dach did list bringing more stores to urban markets as one of the immediate issues for the company. Dach said the company learned a lot in Chicago, but conceded that different markets had different political dynamics. “We know all politics is local in this country and we will have to fight that fight wherever we go,” Dach said."
And Wal-Mart, flush with its Second City success, is apparently geared up for a NY street fight-which is a good thing because they really are going to need all of the company's resources to navigate this town. But it isn't only the Walmonster that needs to gear up-and our friends at Related better be prepared as well for the fight of their lives-after all, this won't be like the gift of patricianage that Deputy Dan gave his buddy Steve Ross over at the Bronx Terminal Market,
Our advise to cocky Leslie is to remember what St. John's coach Lou Carneseca use to advise his b-ball players: "Remember fellas, peacock today, feather duster tomorrow."