Friday, July 29, 2005

Wal-Mart and Neighborhoods

As you all know, we are firm believers in the value of the neighborhood commercial strip and see Wal-Mart as a major threat to this crucial aspect of New York City’s economy. The good folks at No Cleveland Wal-Mart posted some excellent commentary on this very point:

The business plan of Steelyard Commons is to pull lots of the local customers away from neighborhood retail nodes, effectively wiping them out. That’s not scare talk… it’s a simple statement of obvious fact. SYC’s big anchor is Wal-Mart, and Wal-Mart wouldn’t play unless it could sell food. The principal market area for a SuperCenter is generally described as two miles around for food, and five miles around for other goods (that’s why so many small cities are seeing one built at each end of town).

By supporting — pushing, celebrating — this SYC/Wal-Mart business plan, the Campbell Administration is abandoning the City’s twenty-year commitment to food-anchored neighborhood shopping districts in these and (eventually) other neighborhoods.
The below-mentioned Mary Gallagher also has a interesting piece on the economics of box stores and whether it makes financial sense to lure big boxes at the expense of neighborhood retail.