November 9, 2005

Experimental II

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Wal-Mart is opening up another one of those experimental supercenters -- this time in Aurora, CO. Incredibly, the general public can view pretty detailed statistics for the store online in "real time". (Note to WM Facts -- your link goes to the wrong webpage!)

However, klbrowser is ambivalent:

Seems that a brand new Wally World (Wal-Mart) is opening tomorrow in my neighborhood. I have mixed feelings about this. Local Wal-Marts have gotten a bad rap because of their bullying tactics in discouraging unionization. And of course I don't like the way the employees are treated or paid. But on the other hand, this is very near my home, and it would take a lot less energy for me to shop there than it would for me to drive to my neighboring town to shop the nearest Target. If they have elecric carts, that is. And face it, with no income at the moment, I can't afford to shop at the more expensive places. So I am gonna take a peek at the new store tomorrow, mainly out of curiosity. This is one of only two Wal-Marts in the world made primarily of recycled materials. It has solar panels and wind machines, and is heated with vegetable oil. I probably will not shop there regularly, especially once the LTD company starts paying. But I hope no one will see me as the devil for setting foot in there.

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The Wal-Mart press kit (WARNING PDF - 17MB) contains lovely drawings and photos, including this one comparing the height of a wind turbine to the Statue of Liberty.

Also, the store has a dedicated RV and parking area, for those of you interested in such things, and a gas station with portable above-ground tanks;

The main benefit of the portable design of the TFS is that the storage tanks and all delivery pipes are above ground... The storage tank is completely enclosed in a traffic impact rated housing that has also been rated to withstand ballistic assaults... Another benefit to having the TFS system is that it allows for other types of future development. This system is portable, and can easily be removed. The site would be clear of any environmental concerns, unlike historic gas station sites.

Posted by Kevin at 8:24 AM

October 12, 2005

WM Inside the Beltway

The sound you hear would have been excessive snarling traffic, if such weren't already the norm for inside-the-DC-beltway:

UPPER MARLBORO, Md. -- Wal-Mart will be allowed to open its first store inside the Capital Beltway under plans approved by the Prince George's County Council....

It allows Wal-Mart to build a store that will sell food at the Capital Plaza Mall in Landover Hills.

Wal-Mart is inching every closer to DC, the center of the national anti-WM movement.

Here's the location of the proposed Wal-Mart at the Capital Plaza Mall:

capitalhillsmall_wm.jpg

Posted by Kevin at 12:11 PM

September 19, 2005

Oakland

Thomas Lifson writes that the new Oakland store (you know, the one that had 11,000 people apply for 400 jobs) is a big hit with consumers:

The East Oakland neighborhood houses many blacks, Hispanics, whites, and a growing Asian population. I take it as a very good sign that the welfare of the general public in the form of low prices is outweighing the special interest of the unions. Even in Oakland.
He links to this excellent piece in the SF Chronicle by Chip Johnson:
And a demonstration by community activists outside the store the day after it opened hasn't slowed the crowds of people shopping there.

On the day the Wal-Mart opened on Edgewater Drive, it reported more than $500,000 in sales revenues, said City Councilman Larry Reid, who supported the project from the start.

Since then, revenues at Wal-Mart stores in neighboring cities has fallen off -- a 32 percent drop in San Leandro and 22 percent in Union City, said Reid, quoting figures that Wal-Mart officials provided.

The overwhelmingly positive consumer response has also prompted other retailers, many of them national chains, to call Reid's office to inquire about business opportunities in the city, he said.

That's quite a bundle of ideas: activism is trumped by bargain hunting, people in Oakland have money to spend, Wal-Mart has cannabalized its other stores, and (not listed) traffic was terrible.

Posted by Kevin at 4:48 PM

September 15, 2005

Gray-Blue Battleships

This is The Box Tank's turf, but since it's taking a break, I thought I'd bring it to your attention.

A Little Urbanity thinks that hell has frozen over, because he read this article:

One of the strongest signals yet of how fundamental the shift in “big-box only” retail doctrine may be came at the International Council of Shopping Centers last December. Robert Stoker, senior real estate manager for Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., declared, “We've reached a stage where we can be flexible. We no longer have to build a gray-blue battleship box.”

Mr. Stoker cited several examples of the world’s largest retailer bending its once-rigid design formula to fit into existing neighborhoods, new mixed use developments, and even a high-rise. For the retail development world, it was as though the pope had changed the words in the Lord’s Prayer.

I'm still waiting to see designs of the Bavarian themed Wal-Mart. You have to be amused by the disgust sprawl busters has for the latter-type concept:
What’s next? A Kosher Wal-Mart for Brooklyn? A Cheese-theme for Wisconsin? An Alligator Skin for Florida? When Wal-Mart promised an “Adirondack” theme in Lake Placid, New York, the residents just said No. Developers always tell local residents that their store will be "unique", the only one of its kind in the country. The idea that any community would accept the negative impacts of a Wal-Mart on the unique character of their town by the style of facade they use, is simply absurd.
Actually, I've come across many people who wish Wal-Mart stores just weren't so ugly.

Posted by Kevin at 9:18 AM

August 26, 2005

11,000 Applicants for 400 Jobs (UPDATED)

UPDATE: NPR has an excellent piece on this.

In the San Fransisco Chronicle, Pia Sarkar finds people divided over whether 11,000 applicants for 400 jobs is a reflection of how bad Oakland's economy is, or whether Wal-Mart's jobs really aren't all that bad:

"Wal-Mart is one of the largest employers in the world -- they have to be a model for the society they are promoting," said Wendell Chin, coalition director for the Central Labor Council of Alameda County. "If they don't provide a decent lifestyle, it's scary....

Chin said jobs at Wal-Mart are a dead-end cycle that keeps people in poverty. Although he does not blame anyone for applying for work there, he said that Wal-Mart owes it to them to provide them a way to make a decent living.

"It's not just about jobs," Chin said. "It's (having) a good job that you can raise a family on."

For people like Melvin Brown, any job would be a blessing.

"I think this is a good place to work," said Brown, 52, who dropped off his application on Tuesday for an overnight maintenance position. "It seems like everybody gets along well with everybody."

Brown has been looking for a job for six months. He said he could live with the wages that Wal-Mart is offering.

"It's best to accept what you can get," he said. "You start low and aim high. First you gotta get your foot in the door."

Posted by Kevin at 1:11 PM

August 25, 2005

Chuck Schumer Comes Up Empty for Tupper Lake

On November 14, 2002, Charles Schumer, a U.S. Senator of the State of New York, wrote Lee Scott that Tupper Lake, the "Crossroads" of the Adirondacks, needed a Wal-Mart desperately, because the two closest stores -- both Ames department stores -- had closed when Ames went out of business.

To Schumer's political advantage, zip code 12986 was devoid of big boxes, and he could gain points by trying to do something about it:

Recently, Ames Department Store closed its retail stores in Tupper Lake and Saranac Lake, leaving the residents of southern Franklin and St. Lawerence Counties and western Essex County with no comparable retail establishment nearby. In fact, the closest alternative is the Wal-Mart in Plattsburgh, a full hour and twenty minutes away.
The citizenry were up in arms, of course, but Wal-Mart seems to have not even considered it.

As you can see from the map of Wal-mart locations around Tupper Lake, no Wal-Mart has been built within 50 miles of the town.

tupperlake.jpg

Tupper now has a WiseBuys instead of a Wal-Mart, and the chain provides an excellent example of creative destruction:

"WiseBuys was formed to proactively address the recent loss of Ames Department Stores throughout northern New York,” said WiseBuys Stores, Inc. founder Thomas Scozzafava. “Ames represented a vital retail destination in the larger, key shopping centers and filled an important role of providing a variety of affordably priced and much-needed merchandise. It is our goal to replace and expand on the concept of Ames.
Much, much more here.

Posted by Kevin at 10:47 AM

August 15, 2005

Bavarian Wal-Mart

I'm hoping the folks at The Box Tank will post some photos or drawings of this store:

Swap Frankenmuth's Bavarian emblems of beer steins and bratwurst for windmills and wooden shoes, and you've got Pella, Iowa.

The Dutch-themed tourist town settled in 1847 -- two years after Frankenmuth -- similarly prides itself on its agricultural roots and storied European heritage.

So when Wal-Mart came a-knocking this year, Pella officials were leery of the big-box behemoth clashing with their Holland-themed haven.

But after careful review of the city's ordinances, Planning Commission members gave the 99,700-square-foot supercenter the green light in April.

"In Pella, the approach with the zoning ordinance is not to prohibit big-box development," said Planning and Zoning Director George J. Wesselhoft, "but rather make it distinctive so it doesn't resemble 'Anytown USA' architecture...."

Pella officials OK'd the rezoning after Wal-Mart agreed to adhere to a Netherlander architectural design, including burgundy and cream shutters, a green sign, trees, extended sidewalks and a Dutch gable over the entrance.

Posted by Kevin at 5:38 PM

June 2, 2005

New WM in Beijing Sells Black Market DVDs? (UPDATED)

Frank Yu describes his experiences in a new WM in Beijing, interspersed by relevant quotes from Star Wars movies. Frank had a great time, but he became suspicious that Wal-Mart was selling bootleg DVDs:

One chilling discovery during the visit came when we went to investigate the DVD movie selection aisle on the first floor. Along with the usual local Chinese movie DVDs encased in hard plastic box packaging, there were also foreign DVDs polywrapped in plastic with simply the cover sheet and the DVD inside packaged in the same manner that pirated DVDs were sold in China. Most surprising of all was that the price of Disney�s Dumbo was only about 6 yuan(that's less than 1 USD). Pirated DVDs from other Beijing stores cost about 10 yuan while poor-quality street versions cost about 8 yuan. These DVDs were cheaper than the pirated versions sold around Beijing. I cannot confirm if those in the store were actually legitimate or not, but given the price and packaging I would make a guess that they were not. I should not be surprised since pirated DVDs have been found to be sold in Chinese post offices and government buildings by vendors who set up a table inside. Since almost all retailers in Beijing seem to do the same thing as well, one gets desensitized to the practice until you realize that this is Wal-Mart.
If the DVDs are legitimate, then Wal-Mart is undercutting the prices of movie pirates, which is simply astonishing.

UPDATE: In the comments, Frank, the author of the linked article, notes that he has posted a photo of the DVD shelf in question. Thanks, Frank!

Posted by Kevin at 8:19 AM

May 2, 2005

New Supercenter in Rio Rancho

Wal-Mart's version of what happens when a new supercenter opens is part of the story:

Randale refuted claims that Wal-Mart would hurt business in Rio Rancho.

"A new supercenter generally attracts commerce (for other businesses). It keeps the community shopping locally," Randale said. "It's not uncommon; there are a lot of franchises and local businesses that like to locate near Walmart."

Will "business" will be hurt? That's a senseless question -- a generalization that ignores the very changes that will come about when a Supercenter arrives. I do not see how one can "refute" a senseless question.

Surely, some businesses will be hurt; others will prosper. Grocery stores will have to compete on price or better service and selection. Many smaller stores will seek to locate (or relocate) near the Supercenter.

Lively downtowns will have to be reconfigured, since they are no longer the general merchandise center of areas. If businessmen aren't obstinate, downtowns can become vital spaces. But tf they are obstinate, then reconfiguration will take a longer time...

I don't know any examples of WM's effect on already dead downtowns...


(Another question is whether the sales or property tax base of a city or county will be hurt; this is not a concern about the health of commerce; it's a concern with how much can be sucked out of commerce.)

Posted by Kevin at 9:14 PM

April 20, 2005

Ancient Remains

It seems a new Kentucky Wal-Mart will be replacing some long-time squatters:

Bone fragments were unearthed last week during an archaeological survey of a 55-acre site near Interstate 65 and Outer Loop slated for a Wal-Mart, restaurants and condominiums. Spear tips and burned rock were found several years earlier at the site, officials said.

The remains, accompanied by trash pits, charcoal, carbonized seeds and tools, suggest a camp used by nomadic hunters who might have gathered medicinal herbs and food in the wetland area around 3000 B.C., said David Pollack, a Kentucky Heritage Council archaeologist and site-protection manager.

Posted by Kevin at 9:00 PM

April 9, 2005

Riverhead is Already Full of Commerce!

WalMartFreeNYC must have a screw loose:

In danger of seeing their town ruined by the invasion of Wal-Mart, Riverhead residents are banding together to stop it. Not willing to stand for secret meetings and closed door dealings, they're fighting back to save their city. This ad is currently running to help combat Wal-Mart's backroom deal.
Town ruined? They've got to be kidding! Is this the best they can do?

Wal-Mart already has a smaller store in Riverhead. So does Target, Home Depot, KMart, Borders, Office Max, Best Buy, etc... Town residents fought them tooth and nail -- and lost!

Riverhead is also the home of a set 165 stores in a Tanger Factory Outlet. I know, because I spent several days in Riverhead just a month ago!

The idea that building a Wal-Mart will somehow destroy Riverhead, which has commerce busting forth on all sides, and is packed with cars on the weekend, is simply preposterous.

If there are (illegal?) secret meetings for Wal-Mart to build a Supercenter, then that's a different matter. But Wal-Mart will have a VERY hard time beating local prices for produce, since the #1 lowest price for groceries on Long Island can be found in Riverhead -- at Best Yet Market (formerly produce warehouse).

And check out Best Yet's Logo:

lowpricesalways.jpg

Low Prices Always!

Posted by Kevin at 7:49 AM

April 8, 2005

Small Stores Won't Suffer in Hillsboro, NH

Many residents did not like hearing the summary of the economic impact statement paid for by Wal-Mart but directed by the local government of Hillsboro, NH:

HILLSBORO - Building a Wal-Mart Supercenter in Hillsboro would help the local economy by drawing new shoppers to town and keeping residents from traveling to Concord to spend their money, an economic analysis on the project shows....

"Conventional wisdom is that Wal-Mart kills mom-and-pop retailers, but the impact appears to be more on other national discounters and chain stores...."

Of 46 retail outfits in town, only nine, including Rite-Aid and Shaw's, would compete directly with Wal-Mart. Another eight stores, including Aubuchon Hardware and Radio Shack, would compete somewhat with Wal-Mart....

Here's the real fear:
Thibeault also confirmed a fear held by many Wal-Mart opponents: that more big box stores, like Lowe's and Staples, will probably follow once Wal-Mart builds. While some residents may not find the stores aesthetically pleasing, they do tend to give towns a financial boost, Thibeault said.

David Fullerton asked how many more box stores might come.

"Seventeen," Thibeault said.

"Oh my God!" Fullerton gasped.

"No, I'm just kidding."Thibeault said. "I don't know." He said he is about 85 percent finished with the study and he will look into how much land is left in town where large stores could be built.


Posted by Kevin at 8:25 PM

3000+ Apply for Job at WM Supercenter

Probably as a result of an area moving quickly away from a manufacturing-based economy:

With Electrolux and Hitachi shutting down Montcalm County plants this year, the idea of the nation's largest employer coming to town sounded like a good deal to Sizemore. That's why she -- and more than 3,000 other job-seekers -- jumped at the chance to apply at the Wal-Mart Supercenter, a 204,000-square-foot store scheduled to open May 18 on M-57 west of Greenville.

But there's bad news for Sizemore and the thousands of other Wal-Mart hopefuls. The company is done hiring.

Last year, when the Wal-Mart Corp. was pushing to open a store in Eureka Township, company representatives said the new store would employ about 500 workers. But according to Wal-Mart employees who have been collecting applications from area residents for the past month, that number now has been reduced to 310.

Officials at Wal-Mart headquarters in Bentonville, Ark., did not return calls seeking comment....

"We've gotten over 3,000 applications and we're getting hundreds more every day," she said. "And we don't even have signs up."

In March 2004, John Bisio said the new Wal-Mart Supercenter planned to hire about 500 people. The regional manager of corporate affairs with the Wal-Mart Corp. said that about 350 of the 500 employees would be full-time workers receiving benefits.

500 associates in a Supercenter seems like way more than normal. Did WM really ever expect to hire 500 people?

Posted by Kevin at 7:34 PM

A WM Supercenter or a Casino

I had forgotten that Las Vegas tried to keep away WM Supercenters

Land proposed for the Wal-Mart is presently zoned for a casino, and a lot of folks who make their opinions known in the pages of The Record-Courier, think a casino would be an improvement.

But that wasn't the reception property owner Butch Peri got when he proposed the casino there.

A lot of folks have expended a lot of energy trying to stop Wal-Mart from coming to communities. Las Vegas enacted an ordinance to stop Super Wal-Marts from selling groceries in order to protect unionized supermarket workers. The law was overturned by the courts.

Posted by Kevin at 7:30 PM

March 25, 2005

Tumwater and Yelm

The Olympian reports about anti-Supercenter activism in the Olympia, Washington region:

Residents fighting proposed Wal-Mart supercenters in Tumwater and Yelm have organized two public meetings next week.

Representatives of two opposition groups say they will ask for donations to hire lawyers to stop both stores.

The nation's largest retailer has proposed a 207,000-square-foot store at Littlerock Road. It also has proposed a 187,400-square-foot supercenter at state Route 507 and Grove Road in Yelm....

A Seattle spokesman for the company said Wal-Mart wants to build more South Sound stores to be more convenient for customers....

The Tumwater meeting Tuesday at Black Hills High School is a "coming out" for a group known as Tumwater Liveable Community, said Patrick Long, a member of the group.

Posted by Kevin at 9:31 AM

March 24, 2005

Stanwood, Washington

The debate surrounding the proposed Stanwood, WA store seems rather cordial:

STANWOOD - Economic catalyst or economic disaster? Stanwood merchants could expect a bit of both, based on a presentation Tuesday night by the consultant who crunched the numbers to show what would happen if Wal-Mart came to town....

Chase was invited to present an economic impact study about large retailers and answer questions at a joint workshop of the Stanwood City Council and Stanwood Planning Commission at Cedarhome Elementary School.

About 90 residents, a few with homemade anti-Wal-Mart signs, sat quietly while city officials asked Chase about the report. No public comment was taken; an official public hearing is planned in April.

The issue has been stirring since last fall, when an Arlington developer mentioned in a letter to the city that Wal-Mart might be interested in 23 acres at the northeast corner of 72nd Avenue NW and Highway 532. The land would first need to be rezoned from residential to commercial.

Also, somebody started a blog about Walmart in Stanwood, but never followed up after one post that received four interesting comments.

Posted by Kevin at 10:34 AM

March 23, 2005

Ham Lake, Washtenaw, and Ogden

Here's a list of recent locations where WM has pulled back for reconsideration, or has faced serious heat:

Ham Lake:

Wal-Mart officials have shelved their plan to build a 200,000-square-foot store in Ham Lake.

The giant discount retailer withdrew a rezoning request last week, preempting a City Council vote Monday that was expected to derail the project.

Wal-Mart officials couldn't be reached for comment Tuesday, but Ham Lake officials said the retailer could come back with a revised, possibly smaller, proposal.

Washtenaw County, South of Ann Arbor, MI:

Some Washtenaw County residents held a "Wal-Mart Not Welcome" rally on Tuesday afternoon to protest the proposed opening of a store in the area. Wal-Mart

The rally is the second against the proposed 166,000-square-foot supercenter at the corner of State Street and Campus Parkway.

Organizers of the protest, which took place from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., are part of a group of residents that fear the store would add traffic to the area, kill small businesses and snuff out the small-town charm of the community

The latter also offers a survey with rather narrow options:
Do you think a Wal-Mart store would be a welcome addition to your community?
Yes. It offers discount prices and a place to one-stop shop.

No. It would put small businesses out and ruin the small-town charm.

Hey! Can't it be yes and no? And small towns in Michigan have charm? Not that I saw... Anyway, the results are currently 172 no - 137 yes.

Wal-Mart defeated in Ogden, because eminent domain is no longer permitted:

Governor Huntsman signed a bill reducing the power of city re-development agencies. The Ogden RDA wanted to use eminent domain to bring a Wal-Mart to town. Now that's gone....

Littrell couldn't tell you how many times her group stood outside and protested, only that their message was clear. A city shouldn't be allowed to use eminent domain to get rid of a neighborhood, just to make room for a private business like Wal-Mart.

Dorothy Littrell: �Eminent domain had its purpose for the purposes of government.�

But in this case, she says this Wal-Mart isn't for government purpose.

To be seen as caring for the private property of community members, Wal-Mart should immediately renounce the use of eminent domain by governments it plans to do business with.

Posted by Kevin at 11:25 AM

March 10, 2005

Murphysboro Residents Fight Back

Since there are no zoning or land-use ordinances in the County, the city wants to push a new WM Supercenter away from a residential neighborhood, and then annex to the city the area around WM so that the city gets the tax revenue.

Talk about having cake and eating it too:

"The county has basically no jurisdiction. Jackson County has no zoning, has no land use ordinances. So we have no authority to stop anything from coming into any area of the county," says Gary Hartlieb Chairman of the Jackson County Board.

So with little to no leverage in where the super store will be built, the only other alternative city leaders have as an option, would be to zone the area into the city limits.

"It's going to be much harder to go out and reach out and bring that property into the city of Murphysboro. So with the city fathers, or whoever would be Mayor, would have to step up I think and make an attempt to annex that area in. We would need that sales tax revenue," Mayor Williams said.

Posted by Kevin at 11:19 AM

March 6, 2005

Retail Explosion in La Quinta, CA

WM initiates a flood of national retailers:

LA QUINTA - Since the March 2004 debut of Wal-Mart's first California Supercenter, a steady parade of other retailers has moved into the Highway 111 corridor to serve this growing east valley city.

Shopping and dining choices have boomed, and city coffers are reaping the benefits in the form of increased sales tax revenues.

In just the past year, the long list of new stores opened has included Target, Kohl's and Circuit City.

And yet another major player is set to join the fray.

City officials confirmed this week they are reviewing plans by Sam's Club, the warehouse store division of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., to place a new 136,000-square-foot Sam's Club, slated to include its own gas station, on 12.5 acres along Dune Palms Road, just east of the Wal-Mart Supercenter.

Did La Quinta have an old retail sector? If so, how is it doing?

Posted by Kevin at 11:03 AM

WM Supercenter in Woodland Park, CO

In The Gazette, Rich Laden has written an excellent broad overview (cached version) of the debate over big boxes--and WM in particular--in Woodland Park:

But in a town such as Woodland Park, a scenic, 20-minute drive up Ute Pass from the Springs and home to about 7,000 people, opposition to Wal-Mart isn�t just about the retailer�s corporate policies.

Simply put, much of it hits close to home. Some residents worry a Wal-Mart store � or a Target, Home Depot or other big box � would disrupt the town�s character with more people, traffic and even crime, while it changes customer buying habits and harms longtime mom and pop businesses.

Woodland Park voters will decide May 3 whether to enact a six-month moratorium on retailers larger than 75,000 square feet.

�Woodland Park is a very unique community,� said Erik Stone of Citizens for Responsible Growth, the anti-Wal-Mart group. �It serves very much as a bedroom community for Colorado Springs. It�s a sense of place.

�When you�re there, you�re somewhere with incredible natural beauty. You have Pikes Peak above the town. Big retailers, whether it�s Wal-Mart, Kmart or Home Depot, anybody of that size and scale, we don�t think it�s a good fit for the community.�

The politically active, adult (non-felon?) members of the community will now decide the issue for everyone.

Posted by Kevin at 10:55 AM

February 28, 2005

No WM in Rego Park

Newsday notes that WM will not be going to Rego Park. Costco, Target, and small businesses start popping corks, and will continue to exploit their workers and extort their consumers:

At the Queens site, however, landlord Vornado Realty didn't have the stomach to take on unions, competing merchants and some city council members. Vornado's decision to replace Wal-Mart at the planned, multi-use complex momentarily lets the city off the hook for making some tough choices: Should low-wage, anti-union businesses be prohibited as a matter of public policy? No. Should city officials do an exhaustive study of Wal-Mart's potential impact on the city, which is so very different from any other place it does business? Yes, as soon as possible. Otherwise, rhetoric overtakes reason at the expense of rational public policy.
Ah, yes, a study!!! That will solve things just like it did in Inglewood, no???--where one economic impact statement insisted that the net number of jobs would increase and another that it would decrease. Great solution. The only useful study is a national, detailed, empirical study of what has actually happened after WM has opened up in randomly-selected places nationally. Almost all "potential impact" studies are based on arbitrary non-validated models chosen by the investigative team to meet a pre-determined goal.

Anyway, the New York Post prints readers' reactions. The last is the most amusing:

I'm glad to see that taxpayer funding of campaigns in New York has stopped the special interests in their tracks.
The rest are snarky too--both pro and con.

The City Journal praises politicians for saving us from prosperity:

New York�s pols are doing a victory dance over saving the city, at the eleventh hour, from getting a powerful boost in retail jobs and sales-tax receipts, by pressuring a developer, Vornado Realty Trust, to drop Wal-Mart from its proposed Rego Park, Queens development. In the eyes of the pols, stopping Wal-Mart was supposed to be a victory for small stores in Queens and for the city�s working people who, the Solons claim, were about to be exploited by the big, bad retailer.

But the real victor was Nassau Country, which like other suburban locales has benefited hugely over the years from the city�s efforts to keep out big-box stores�an effort that started long before Wal-Mart came on the scene.

Given statistically identical aggregate incomes, Nassau has twice the retail sales as Queens.

9News gets a councilwoman to speak gibberish:

Councilwoman Melinda Katz, head of the City Council Land Use Committee, said she received a call on Wednesday from Vornado's attorney that it had made the decision Tuesday night, and that it is looking for other tenants.

Katz said the deal may have fallen through because of Wal-Mart's track record on labor issues.

"Vornado may very well have a project that could be a good project in the area, and they wanted to go forward based on the substance as opposed to getting caught up in the issues that Wal-Mart seems to bring to the table," she said.

Huh? You mean, councilwoman, that your government, pressured by unions, would have gotten in the way at every step. Just making things clear.

The AP notes that WM never signed a deal with the developer.

Posted by Kevin at 10:19 AM

February 18, 2005

Lodi Council Gives WM Go-ahead

As described here and here, the Lodi, CA city council has been set on requiring WM to rent or demolish its old building before building a supercenter across the street. An agreement was reached that gives WM the option of selling the building too:

The Lodi city council Wednesday night voted unanimously to approve a proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter, ending two years of arguments and public meetings.

Councilmembers voted 4-0 to approve an agreement between the City of Lodi and developer Darryl Browman that eases a requirement that Wal-Mart find a new tenant for its existing store before it starts building the supercenter. That condition was amended to include demolition or sale of the building.

Next up are the lawsuits...

Posted by Kevin at 1:25 PM

February 11, 2005

More on WM in Rego Park, Queens

A snippet from Steven Greenhouse's latest:

In all this early skirmishing, one not inconsequential group seems largely forgotten: New York's consumers. Many of them love Wal-Mart's low prices.
Forgotten by whom?

Posted by Kevin at 6:08 AM

February 6, 2005

WM as Anchor in Shopping Mall

westfield_wm.htm

This USA Today article about incorporating Target and Neimann Marcus into the same mall discussed how Westfield has included a two story Wal-Mart as a shopping mall anchor in Westfield Shoppingtown Parkway in San Diego.

Many retailers were worried about WM devouring their sales, but at least the coffee shop and designer fashion store were happy when WM opened up in the shopping mall:

"Wal-Mart doesn't sell fashion," said Alberto Tawil, owner of The Pink Room, a nearby store that sells clothes for girls ages 4-16. "I don't think they will affect me."

Stores that don't compete with Wal-Mart, such as a nearby coffee shop, said they expect a swell in sales.

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf saw a $300 bump in sales Sunday driven largely by some of the giant retailer's employees, said Stephanie Jones, a vendor at the shop.

"It's exciting," Jones said.

However, when invading new territory, WM and Target have not been waiting for shopping mall developers; instead they're just putting up free-standing stores nearby:

Despite the increase in non-traditional anchors, big-box stores aren't likely to focus exclusively on malls any time soon, says Bucksbaum. The successful chains select sites on a case-by-case basis. While Wal-Mart is putting a few stores in malls, the discount giant is still mainly building freestanding units. Why? Sometimes it is faster for Wal-Mart to buy its own piece of land instead of waiting for someone to develop a mall, says Bucksbaum.

General Growth Properties tried to attract a Target to a new mall that will open this summer in Des Moines, Iowa, but the discounter decided to build its own unit one intersection away from the shopping center. �They [Target] felt that the stand-alone unit would open more quickly and generate business,� says Bucksbaum.

Posted by Kevin at 10:32 AM

February 4, 2005

Flyfishing Gear

Over at BoomtownUSA, Jack Schultz has some fine observations of a new WM Supercenter in Idaho:

At the entrance to the new store was the Wal-Mart Fly Shop, the first of its kind in the country. No it�s not a new Fear Factor fad shop! They sell equipment and flies for fly fishing. Eastern Idaho has some of the best fly fishing streams in the world, so selling fly fishing products makes a lot of sense.

I asked Jim Evans, whose official title is merchandising supervisor but who sure looked like the general manager, how they happened to get into selling flies. He told me, �The district manager thought that it might make sense here, so they tried it.� Evans is an avid fisherman who told me that the shop is aimed at first time and intermediate fishermen.

Posted by Kevin at 11:22 AM

February 3, 2005

A "Green" Wal-Mart?

According to the Vancouver Sun, Wal-Mart is going to extraordinary lengths to meet local government's demands:

Wal-Mart Canada has unveiled a $30-million-plus, environmentally correct design -- with windmills, geothermal heating and 250 dogwood trees -- for its controversial store on Vancouver's Southeast Marine Drive.

The design aims to appease Vancouver city council members who in 2003 told the U.S.-based retailing giant to come up with the "greenest" design possible if it wants a chance to build its first store in Vancouver.

Posted by Kevin at 11:00 AM

January 28, 2005

More on Ballston Spa

I've received two negative comments on my previous Ballston Spa post, merely for pointing out that most residents want WM. One commenter insisted that I was an ignorant slut, the other implied that his investment in his small business somehow granted him the right to his shopper's purchases.

As I noted, some residents have formed a group (see saveballston.comAlbany Times-Union reviews the arguments, and makes comparisons to other localities:

Community leaders and residents who have witnessed the effect Wal-Mart has had on other Capital Region towns gave it mixed reviews.

Glenville Supervisor Clarence Mosher called his town's Wal-Mart, 11 miles from the possible Ballston site, a good neighbor. Assessed at $14 million, the store has an annual town property tax bill of about $62,700. The company gives money to local charities and is willing to pay for road improvements to ease traffic congestion created by its presence, Mosher said. But traffic and calls to the town's 25-member police force increased when Wal-Mart arrived.

"The courts see 100 bad checks a month coming out of Wal-Mart," Mosher said.

[Al] Norman, who helped stop a Wal-Mart from being built in Greenfield in 1993, said that when communities are considering allowing a Wal-Mart into their midst, they should remember the stores don't only attract shoppers.

"This type of business will tax your resources more than an office complex," said Glenville Deputy Police Chief Dominick Macherone.

Police get a range of calls from the store, Macherone said, including calls on vehicle lock-outs, parking lot crashes, theft and assault.

A 2.5-mile road, Dutch Meadows Lane, was built to accommodate Wal-Mart, but Freeman's Bridge Road, where the store was built, is congested, Mosher said.

Justin Konik, the manager of Aubuchon Hardware on Route 50, 2 miles north of Wal-Mart, said he lost customers when the store opened.

He canvassed his customers, and "80 percent of them say they don't like to shop there, but as successful as it is, someone must be going there," Konik said.

And 100% of WM customers shop at WM, so?

Posted by Kevin at 11:27 AM

January 10, 2005

Defending the Urban Core

The New York State Progressives summarize numerous efforts by local governments and activist groups to delay, reform, and quash Wal-Mart's entry into the Urban core:

As Wal-Mart arrives at its last unconquered market � urban America � city residents are fighting back to protect their communities by blocking or modifying big-box developments, sometimes through reforming economic development subsidies.

Reforms won or proposed by grassroots groups in Los Angeles, Chicago, Austin, San Francisco, Hartford and smaller cities make it clear that Wal-Mart vs. urban America is a big new chapter in the fight for accountable development.

Question: I do not want to denigrate the serious efforts of sincere people, but I must as how many, and what percent of, "city residents" actually "fought back"? Their efforts are real and important, but it is a dramatic oversimplification to imply that they are spearheaded by truly grassroots groups. Those opposing Wal-Mart form a network exhibiting both weak and strong ties, encompassing formal organizations and ad-hoc assemblies. Money, power, information, activist tactics, press contacts, and legal help can and do flow between nodes of this network...

Posted by Kevin at 11:48 AM

January 2, 2005

WM in American Canyon

Of course the big controversy in "Gateway to the Napa Valley" is Wal-Mart:

The fast-growing city of American Canyon showed its divisions with a debate that ignited the community, cast a long shadow over the city council race and has now become a court battle. The question of whether a 176,000-square-foot Wal-Mart Supercenter would buoy or sink the city's economy was the biggest story in Napa County commerce in 2004, and it remains unresolved.

Would Wal-Mart endanger local stores and supermarkets, or would it become the low-priced anchor to a mixed-use development that would create -- at long last -- a center to the city?

The furor started in late June, when Wal-Mart applied to build a Supercenter on a swath of land by Highway 29. City officials were quick to voice their support for the idea, seeing the retail giant as the only likely tenant to anchor the Napa Junction mixed-use project, which includes 286 apartments, retail stores, a hotel and a park.

But City Manager Mark Joseph was already getting an earful from angry residents. By the time a Sept. 9 Planning Commission meeting rolled around, the crowd of naysayers and supporters had swelled to more than 400, filling the Community Center Gym on Benton Way with tit-for-tat shouts and signs. News crews from around the Bay Area brought cameras to capture the increasingly common sight of residents of California communities battling Wal-Mart, the most successful company in the world but also one charged with paying low wages and undermining U.S. manufacturers by selling inexpensive imported goods.

The planning commission signed off on the design of the Wal-Mart and the City Council subsequently voted unanimously to uphold the Planning Commission's action. Opponents vowed revenge.

On election day the rift in the community showed itself in city council balloting. Residents voted to keep Mayor Lori Luporini, who supported the project, but at the same time elected Cindy Coffey, the leading Wal-Mart critic and at the time, the head of the anti-Wal-Mart forces of American Canyon Community United for Responsible Growth.

Coffey resigned from ACCURG a little more than a week later, the same day the group filed suit to overturn approval of the Supercenter. The next week another group backed by lawyers representing the Vallejo Food-4-Less filed a similar suit. The cases are still awaiting action.

NOTE: this is not about sprawl:
In stark contrast to the Wal-Mart tribulations, Napa saw its second Target open in October with no protest, bringing along with it the city's fifth Starbucks.

Posted by Kevin at 9:51 AM

December 17, 2004

Quote of the Day

Paula Kline of Somerset County says, "Any store that comes to this area that is making money somebodys gonna have something bad to say about them."

--WJAC TV - Proper English be damned!

Posted by Kevin at 10:35 AM

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 at 11:57 AM

December 2, 2004

Sheboygan vs. WM

wm_forehead.jpgAt every proposed new WM, the most vocal members of the local community show up to object. This time, it's Sheboygan, WI:

Tuesday night, opponents packed the town firehouse.

They said a 24-hour Wal-Mart supercenter would cause traffic, safety and environmental hazards.

"Wal-Mart is not a good fit, is not wanted and is not needed in the back yards of the town of Sheboygan. Do not rezone. Do not change what our town is all about," Sheboygan resident Dan Graves said.

I had to steal the wonderful photo from the linked website before it disappeared...

Posted by Kevin at 11:17 AM

November 16, 2004

The Classic Story

Everywhere WM opens up a new store, the same pattern of activity can be seen. Since I'm an economist, not an anthropologist or sociologist, I've not formed a concise story to explain it. But now I don't have to, as this new store story in the Times-Herald has it all, starting with the title--Wal-Mart draws criticism, praise. Continue below to read an excerpt:

By ERIN KOSNAC

FORT GRATIOT -- Michael Ward thinks it's great news Wal-Mart wants to open a supercenter north of Meijer on M-25.

But the Fort Gratiot resident knows not everyone shares his opinion.

"Wal-Mart's a big company," said Ward, who owns North Port Party Store, which is across the road from the proposed site. "And anytime you have something that big, you're always going to have groups who dislike you."

As plans have been announced to bring or expand Wal-Marts in Fort Gratiot, Marine City and Sandusky, supporters and opponents of the retail giant have emerged.

Eugene Fram is familiar with both sides.

Fram is the J. Warren McClure Research professor of marketing at Rochester Institute of Technology in New York and has been studying Wal-Mart for more than 20 years.

Fram said Wal-Mart critics have varying reasons for their opposition, including concerns about low wages, environmental issues and changes in the nature of a community because of the increased retail -- and other businesses -- the store could bring.

Fram also has seen communities try to attract Wal-Mart because all the independent stores have left the area.

"Not everyone likes Wal-Mart," Fram said. "Some people will say they're not going to shop there, and they don't shop there. But a lot of people are shopping there because their prices are so low..."

Dick Reynolds, a member of Fort Gratiot's planning commission, voted against granting Wal-Mart special land-use approval for a gas station and tire-and-lube express at its proposed supercenter.

"I don't shop at Wal-Mart," Reynolds said at Tuesday's planning commission meeting. "I don't like their practices."

Rosalie Skwiers of Marine City also doesn't like Wal-Mart's practices...

She said she reads two to five stories each week in newspapers about Wal-Mart, and almost none of them are positive. She has concerns about labor abuses, the impact on independent businesses in the surrounding areas and the number of Wal-Mart employees on public assistance....

"At some point, someone is going to come along and out Wal-Mart Wal-Mart," he said. "But they've got at least another 20 to 30 years, at least that's what my crystal ball says."

Posted by Kevin at 9:51 AM

November 4, 2004

WM "Planting the Staff of Globalization" in Teotihuacan

The controversy noted earlier over WM opening "near" (1 mile away from) the pyramids has been resolved. WM has opened:

TEOTIHUACAN, Mexico (Reuters) - Bargain-hungry shoppers flocked to a new Wal-Mart-owned store half a mile from ancient Mexican pyramids on Thursday, ending a bitter fight by opponents who said U.S.-style consumerism would mar the ruins.

Around 200 shoppers, some flashing victory signs, stormed into the sprawling Bodega Aurrera in Teotihuacan, the site of major archeological ruins outside Mexico City. Many had lined up with shopping carts for hours while last-minute glitches in the cashier system were repaired.

"This is progress," said shopper Jesus Cabrera, who like many neighbors welcomed the store for the low prices and jobs it brings. "People need the well-being of their families more than they need culture."

Less than a mile away, a handful of local opponents kept a lonely vigil outside the tourist park housing the 2,000-year-old Teotihuacan pyramids, pledging to continue a protest that has drawn international attention and prompted a national debate.

"It's like planting the staff of globalization in the heart of ancient Mexico," said Homero Aridjis, a writer and environmentalist who led a national drive to block the store. "It is supremely symbolic."

See also the BBC report with great pic.

Posted by Kevin at 8:32 PM