Sunday, January 08, 2006

Further Observations on the BTM EIS

Our comments on the AKRF argument that a BJ's would not impact on the 59 independent supermarkets have focused on the issues of club membership fees, food stamps eligibility and car ownership. Now let's look at another of the consultant's faulty observations: the nature of local supermarkets as "convenience" stores.

On p.3-80 of the EIS it is asserted that these local markets, because of their convenience and accessibility, will not be impacted by the opening of a club store, even if such a store will generate over $60 million a year in food business.

AKRF then combines this observation with their other points on membership, etc. What is missing from this self-serving analysis is the phenomenon of "creaming." The reality is that, while redlining large numbers of local residents, BJ's will at the same time attract those neighborhood folks with access to a car and with the ability to afford the entry fee, thus depriving the local markets of all of their best customers.

In other parts of the EIS the consultants subtly reinforce this point when they acknowledge that the mall may inhibit the growth potential of the local stores. So it seems that what is being perpetrated here is an attempt to cap the ability to expand for those stores that took all the risks and brought these neighborhoods back. They will lose their best customers and be left with the poorest residents who aren't able to take advantage of the benefits of BJ's.