Friday, March 24, 2006

The Rockland Business Association And Wal-Mart

We met yesterday with Sandy Fried the owner of The Tire Warehouse in Spring Valley, New York. Sandy is a member of a group called the Rockland Business Association. Now we have been trying to make contact with the RBA and, since Mr. Fried is a member and supports our efforts against the Walmonster, we thought it would be a good idea if he reached out to Al Samuels, RBA's president.

Which he did but not with the results we would have hoped. It seems that Big Al is suspicious of the Alliance and told Sandy Fried that he thinks we are a "carpetbagger outfit." So, without the courtesy of a meeting, the head of a group that purports to represent Rockland's business community, a group that has actually set up a Small Business Council, won't meet to discuss the impact of the largest single retailer to look to locate in Rockland.

How sad is that? What's really ironic is that of all the participants in this site fight the Alliance's Richard Lipsky may be the only local resident of the county. In addition, calling the Alliance a carpetbagger when it looks to fight the ultimate retail carpetbagger of all time is beyond absurd and is an egregious example of the toadying that certain business groups do when the Walmonster comes to town.

In looking at the membership list of the RBA, however, what strikes us is the relative paucity of retailers. The RBA clearly doesn't represent the interests of local retailers in Monsey, Suffern, Airmont and Spring Valley. What's more it also doesn't represent the suppliers of these retailers, the local wholesalers who will also be ruined when their customers are put out of business. In addition, it isn't representing the professionals--the accountants, lawyers, insurance brokers and bankers--who service the local businesses and will be shut out by the out-of-town retail giant.

The RBA should have an obligation to examine carefully the potential negative impact of a Super Wal-Mart in Rockland. We have seen the kinds of impacts that the store has had on rural and suburban downtowns all over the country and there is no reason to believe that the Rt. 59 corridor would be any different. Just think of the local drug stores, supermarkets, florists, optometrists, dress store, appliance outlets- the list is endless-who will be put at risk by a Super Wal-Mart.

Not to mention the predatory pricing practices of the company. As we have pointed out, Wal-Mart doesn't look to compete it looks to eliminate the competition with initial prices that are designed to put competitors under. Once this is accomplished the company reverts back to a more profitable price structure.

All of which is meant to underscore the serious economic issues involved in the Monsey Wal-Mart fight. This seriousness demands that a group whose charter it is to represent and advocate for local business must not roll over and become a shill for a company that will threaten the viability of many hundreds of Rockland businesses.