Thursday, June 01, 2006

Wal-Mart Watch in the Bronx

When the City Council approved the Gateway Mall project earlier this year, an approval that made a special arrangement to accomodate BJ's, concern was raised that the Bronx might be fertile ground for a booty capitalist thrust for Wal-Mart. Hence, the conference scheduled for Friday by WakeUpWal-Mart.

The purpose of the conference is to galvanize all of the community, labor and small business stakeholders in the borough in order to head the Walmonster off at the pass. From the looks of things the response has been overwhelming and attendance will be strong over at Hostos College.

As we have been commenting the key to Wal-Mart's entry into NYC is the ability of the retailer to garner Black and Latino support through the cooptation of minority developers and small business groups. The company has already started in this direction by collaborating with the ultimate booty capitalist-Frank Garcia and his Bronx Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. It has also joined the mainstream Bronx Chamber as well.

The Wal-Mart tactics are being noticed nationally. In the April edition of Inc Magazine the Alliance's Matt Lipsky was quoted commenting on the effort by Wal-Mart to elicit small business support; "They know their biggest criticism is their negative impact on small business and they're trying to cover that up."

In the current issue of the magazine there is more comment on the giant retailers tactics. In an article titled, "Wal-Mart: the little guy's champion?, James Schrager, a University of Chicago business school professor, tells Inc that the new Wal-Mart initiative is a "grab bag of silliness" but goes on to say that "They'll wipe out all of the inefficient ma and pas, which is a good thing."

Except for the mom and pops themselves, but give the prof props for a degree of honesty that the Wal-Mart folks-and their paid acolytes like Mr. Garcia-lack. It reminds us of all the Polish nationalists who welcomed the Nazi invaders only to become the first victims of Hitler's wrath.

That is why the presence of Alfredo Placeras at Friday's conference is so welcome. Placeras is a true voice of Hispanic business and he, along with Jose Fernandez of the Bodega Association, Sung Soo Kim of the Small Business Congress and Paul Fernandez of the National Supermarket Association, is a legitimate representative of small, minority business.