Monday, August 22, 2005

Wal-Mart and One Stop Shopping

The Times story raises another important Wal-Mart issue. In her support of the entry of Wal-Mart, Annadale's Lisa Tortosa, pooh poohs the traffic argument by pointing out that a Wal-Mart might actually cut down on car trips:

At least with Wal-Mart you can go to one store like this to buy everything you need, instead of going to five stores. That might mean people actually drive around less.
What Ms. Tortosa is missing is the impact that the retail giant will have on local store owners (those other five stores). It is precisely this kind of saturation that has devastated downtown areas all over the country. It is also why the borough president's economic development argument, much like the mayor's own specious "five borough economic development plan," needs careful scrutiny. What's lost must be examined along with any putative gains.

At the same time, however, Tortosa is also wrong about the traffic argument considering the store will generate over one hundred thousand car trips a week. These shoppers will not be coming from Richmond Valley or Tottenville but from points north on the Island. New car trips will also be generated from Brooklynites attracted to the "low price" hype. In addition, the Lucent site can accommodate at least two or three more big box stores and, if Wal-Mart is built, they will come. If you live nearby say goodbye to your nice quiet neighborhood.