Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Walmart's Albor Day

Albor Ruiz has little love for the Walmonster-seeing the giant retailer as more Scrooge than Santa Claus: "It seems that even the largest retail business in the world is not immune to a public relations faux pas once in a while. A Walmart internal email - sent less than a month before Christmas - directed its 3,800 stores to hike prices on 1,800 types of toys to maximize profits. Hardly a way for the retail giant to win hearts and minds of New Yorkers. "The Christmas season has clearly brought out the Scrooge in Walmart. Jacking up prices on toys during the holidays is enough to make Santa cringe," said Public Advocate Bill de Blasio."

As we approach the slated city council oversight hearing on Big Wally, the opposition is beginning to flex: "De Blasio, along with Council Speaker Christine Quinn, is adamant in opposing Walmart's plans to open its first store in the city. Both believe the plan has disastrous consequences for independently owned and operated local businesses, and the good jobs they provide. Twice before, Walmart attempted to plant its flag in the city. Although the mega-retailer hopes the third time is the charm, small-business owners and community leaders are uniting to prove the old saying wrong."

And if past is prologue, this scorch and burn retailer is in for some fight: "The retailer's previous plans were nixed by fierce community opposition, but five years after its failed push to open stores in Queens and Staten Island, a job-starved city besieged by the economic crisis and looming draconian budget cuts may be less resistant to Walmart's controversial M.O. of meager salaries and low prices."

But that same dire economic climate also makes the entry of Walmart even more problematic today-as the city's small businesses, regulated and taxed to death by the Walmart fronting mayor, are struggling to survive. The collateral damages of Big Wally stomping its way into NYC are more ominous today-as Brad Gerstman points out: "They [Walmart] will come in, squash small and medium-sized businesses and replace good-paying, unionized workers with underpaid, nonunion workers," Gerstman said. But the immediate consequences may not be the main problem, Gerstman said. The long-term impact could be even worse. "Who is going to open a store next to Walmart?" he asked."

With the anti-Walmart fervor on the rise, we'll let Public Advocate de Blasio sum things up: "Walmart's business model spells disaster for small businesses, the middle class and New York City," said de Blasio who characterized the retail juggernaut as "a weapon of mass job destruction."