December 7, 2004

WM to enter NYC

They will start in Rego Park, Queens:

The company announced on Monday that it would open a new store in Rego Park on the already shopping traffic-heavy Queens Boulevard -- its first in New York City.

Wal-Mart officials said ground will likely be broken for the 135,000-square-foot store in 2007 or 2008, Newsday reported in Tuesday editions. The Bentonville, Ark.-based company plans to open up the new location as early as mid-2008.

Bring on the opposition! or maybe not:
Whether the neighborhood will welcome Wal-Mart - whose stores have run into opposition in towns from Maine to Mexico - remains to be seen. Big discount stores have been met by stiff resistance in other parts of the city, but this one may be different.

"If they were coming somewhere in Manhattan, you probably would have very active community boards resistant to it," said Robin Abrams, a retail real estate broker with Manhattan-based Lansco, who was not involved with the Wal-Mart deal. But "in Rego Park, there's already been a lot of growth, a lot of big box stores. So I don't know what kind of resistance you'll get there..."

Wal-Mart has drawn opponents in other urban areas based on congestion and on its reputation for paying low wages, blocking unions and driving independent retailers out of business. Earlier this year, a bitterly divided Chicago city council voted to approve one Wal-Mart store but not a second location.

Histon said Community Board 6 will be as impartial as possible. "We don't have any opinion on Wal-Mart or any other company," she said.

The store will be a single level, Dargie said, but it departs from the usual model because it will be enclosed in a multi-level building. Wal-Mart's typical store, a one-level gray box, dots the landscape of suburban and rural areas.

In cities, though, Wal-Mart and other big-box retailers have been forced to become more flexible. Home Depot, for example, designed a multi-level store when it chose to rent space in the old Hasbro building on 23rd Street in Manhattan. Target has tried to stay visible to trendy Manhattanites through marketing stunts such as temporary stores.

UPDATE:The Queens Chronicle has the local details:

Many Christmas shoppers at the Queens Center Mall, which would be a neighbor to the Queens Wal-Mart, saw the company�s aggressive expansion, even into Queens, as a positive development. �I think it�s good for the community, the more competition, the better,� said James Dennis, who recently joined the Marines. �They have a much bigger selection than other stores and cheaper prices.�

Tom Bryson, a retired postal worker, agreed. �I think it�s good. There will be more places to shop and more jobs,� he said.

Even Jasbir Kukreja, who manages an accessory store one block away from the proposed site, is in favor of having the retail giant as a neighbor. �Let everybody come,� he said. �More shoppers can only be better for business. Maybe the bigger stores will be afraid, but it won�t hurt us.�

A spokesman for Queens Center Mall declined to comment.

Still, not everyone welcomed the news. Managers and employees at some neighborhood stores expressed concern that Wal-Mart would destroy smaller competitors. �Opening a Wal-Mart here would ruin all the little stores. It would ruin our business,� said Eddie Dwyer, who works at Pets Pad Plus on Woodhaven Boulevard.

Posted by Kevin on December, 7 2004 at 11:57 AM