Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Bloomberg to Wal-Mart's Rescue

As Daily Politics is reporting Mike Bloomberg-the ultimate front runner and fortune five hundred toady-has reiterated his strong support for Wal-Mart in NYC-but his erstwhile partner is going her separate ways on this hot button issue: "After visiting a laundry in the Brooklyn Navy Yard to cooperatively tout new procedures for helping small businesses, Mayor Bloomberg and Council Speaker Christine Quinn went their separate ways on the hot-potato issue of Wal-Mart possibly opening its first store in the city by locating at the Gateway Center in East New York..."

Bloomberg's statement is quite droll: "This city does not have the legal right to prevent any business that can come here that complies with our laws. And if Wal-Mart wants to go into a place as of right they have a right to do that. I’ve always thought that the more competition the better. People that live in this city are going outside the city to shop at Wal-Marts. So if they’re going to shop at Wal-Marts… they might as well have the jobs here and the tax revenues here. But the city does not have the right to say to one business, ’You can’t come here.’ And we’re not going to do that.”

Memo to the mayor: Everyone leaves this city to shop-and Wal-Mart isn't the only retailer that benefits from the insane cost of doing business in NYC. And, before the mayor touts jobs and tax revenues that supposedly would accrue from having Wal-Mart within the city limits, he should take a look at the study done for the Chicago Wal-Mart.

As we have already pointed out: "...the impact of the urban Walmonster in Chicago has already been evaluated-and the results aren't good for the local retailers. As we said last week: "And the Post's view that somehow Wal-Mart would be the white knight for the city's poor? Only if obliterating small neighborhood-minority owned-business is how you envision Sir Galahad. And a study about the new Chicago Wal-Mart dramatizes the way in which the Walmonster will truly create the urban desert (

What does the study tell us about the mega store's impact? Here it is: "The opening of a Wal-Mart on the West Side of Chicago in 2006 led to the closure of about one-quarter of the businesses within a four-mile radius, according to this study by researchers at Loyola University. They tracked 306 businesses, checking their status before Wal-Mart opened and one and two years after it opened. More than half were also surveyed by phone about employees, work hours, and wages. By the second year, 82 of the businesses had closed. Businesses within close proximity of Wal-Mart had a 40 percent chance of closing."

So, look before you leap Mike-and lower the cost of doing business in this town so that the suburban exodus doesn't turn into a flood. Because, if the disparities between shopping in the city and outside aren't addressed-or, better, redressed-than the building of a city Wal-Mart will do one sure thing; it will cannibalize existing stores and harm the most vulnerable local small businesses.

Ironically, as we cited above, the mayor and the speaker were at the Navy Yard today to promote the city's program for helping small business. But the mayor's development program-building tax subsidized and auto dependent malls all over the city-has been a knife in the heart of neighborhood retailers; creating the kind of unlevel playing field that makes a mockery of Bloomberg's competition rhetoric.

To her credit, Speaker Quinn demurs: "Well, the mayor and I have a slightly different opinion on Wal-Mart,“ she said. ”I obviously want as many new jobs and businesses in New York City as we possibly can, but I think it’s important to be supportive and soliciting business that are of a particular standard, and I don’t think that Wal-Mart meets that standard. That’s a long-held position."

So, let the games begin-and while we're at it, let's use this fight as an opportunity to expose the Bloomberg phony sustainable development program. If anything is unsustainable, it's Wal-Mart in NYC.