Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Wal-Mart Rings in New York

In today's NY Sun the paper continues to report on the apparent attempt of Wal-Mart to effectively ring the outskirts of NYC with stores. Stymied by City Council leadership and the efforts of the anti Wal-Mart coalition, the retailer has been unable to break into the lucrative city market. This time the store is in White Plains and it is somewhat different from the store's normal format in that it is supposed to have an "urban design" element.

What this attempt means for the city is rather murky it seems to us. It reminds us somewhat of the attempt by Costco to create a new urban model called "Costco Fresh," a multi-story store with little or no parking in the heart of the West Side of Manhattan. This idea was soundly slam-dunked by Chris Quinn and Tom Duane over 6 years ago and we don't think Wal-Mart will do any better with its variant.

The White Plains store will have a parking garage and we don't think it would be practical to replicate this in the heart of Manhattan or in Downtown Brooklyn, as one newspaper has advocated. Which leaves the retailer with the same site fight issues that plagued it in Rego Park and now stall its efforts in Tottenville.

The reality is that Wal-Mart will need to try to find an "as-of=right" site if it wants to make headway in NYC. Any other effort will be uphill all the way.