Thursday, March 05, 2009

Up Against the Wal-Mart

In what could be the ultimate challenge-to both Wal-Mart and its opponents-the retail giant is apparently looking for a site in Manhattan: "Manhattan's retail rent rollback is causing Wal-Mart to give the city another look. The giant discount chain has shopped for space in Union Square and among the big-box stores along Sixth Avenue in Chelsea, The Post has learned. Wal-Mart recently passed on a proposal by Related Companies for a two-level store of about 57,000 feet in Union Square where Virgin Megastores and Circuit City are closing, sources said. The company's real-estate scouts have also been roaming the area around 620 Sixth Ave., said the sources.:

Now the challenge here for the Walmonster, is the logistics of the parking deprived borough; with the store being the anti-congestion tax all by itself. In addition, it's unlikely-no, probably impossible to find the usual single story site that the retailer is used to; so that anew configuration of multi story levels would have to be devised.

At the same time, however, any site that Wal-Mart might be looking at is probably zoned for commercial use-a major problem for all of its opponents who have relied upon defeating the various Wal-Mart sites in the city because of the need in those cases for some kind of zoning permit. That being said, wherever Wal-Mart might look to go, it will find determined foes: "Unions say that despite the city's economic distress, it doesn't need the retail giant.
"We don't need Wal-Mart to take advantage of an economic crisis to sneak into New York and drive down standards and wages," said Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union."

Still, the economic downturn may, because of its bargain reputation, in fact increase Wal-Mart's appeal; raising the level of difficulty for the Alliance and its supporters. Still, we remain undaunted; and with a string of Alliance-stimulated defeats, the Walmonster better tread lightly-it's starting to get the same reputation in NYC as Casey Stengel's old Mets; losers, but without any lovable tag.