The Wall Street Journal reported on September 14th that Wal-Mart lost a shot at being part of a huge development in Brooklyn, New York — one of the coveted urban markets that the retailer has been trying to break open since at least 2009. This setback for Wal-Mart comes approximately one month after a developer in Queens, New York vowed that Wal-Mart would not be part of its project either.
Instead of a Wal-Mart, residents at the proposed Gateway II shopping center will be buying their groceries at a ShopRite grocery store, which is a unionized operation. The announcement that Wal-Mart was out and ShopRite in drew praise from the United Food and Commercial Workers Union.
The details of the falling out between Wal-Mart and the developer, Related Company, were not clear, but the Journal claimed the negotiations became stuck over financial disagreements. Wal-Mart gave the media its stock response to collapsed plans. “We remain committed to bringing new economic development and shopping options to New York City, especially in the neighborhoods that need them most,” a Wal-Mart spokesman said. The company had been pursuing a 150,000 s.f. store at the site, which was rezoned for big box developments more than three years ago.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has made no secret of his strong desire to accommodate Wal-Mart, but that sentiment is not shared by leaders of the New York City Council, and members of the union movement in the city. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn told the Wall Street Journal: “ShopRite will bring quality food to this area of Brooklyn as well as good jobs with an economic impact that will be felt throughout the five boroughs. I welcome this company’s newest location with its history of responsible business practices, supporting its workers and the communities they serve,”
The United Food and Commercial Workers was quick to respond. “UFCW Local 1500 is thrilled,” said spokesman Patrick Purcell, “that after weeks of supporting the conversations with The Related Company and our employer ShopRite and other interested parties, a deal was reached today to bring to the citizens of East Brooklyn three things they so desperately need: good food, good jobs and good health.”
On March, 28, 2007, Sprawl-Busters reported that Wal-Mart’s CEO Lee Scott told the New York Times that his passion to locate a superstore in Manhattan had cooled off. “I don’t care if we are ever here… I don’t think it’s worth the effort,” Scott told the editorial board of the New York Times. Wal-Mart clarified later that Scott was only referring to Manhattan. Scott later told reporters that he had had personal discussions with Mayor Bloomberg welcoming Wal-Mart to New York.
But to organized labor in New York City, the welcome mat was never out for the giant retailer. “We don’t care if they’re never here,” said the executive director of the New York City Central Labor Council. “We don’t miss them. We have great supermarkets and great retail outlets in New York. We don’t need Wal-Mart.”
That feeling was echoed by City Council Speaker Quinn in August of 2009, when she released a statement which said, “While Wal-Mart claims to have improved corporate practices, these efforts appear to be little more than window dressing. Until they make actual changes, providing a living wage and ending the practice of preying on small businesses, I will block any attempt to locate in the five boroughs.”
Readers should email City Council Speaker Christine Quinn at http://council.nyc.gov/d3/html/members/home.shtml with the following note:
Great news out of East Brooklyn this past week! ShopRite will be part of the Gateway II project instead of Wal-Mart. Thank you for consistently pointing out that Wal-Mart preys on small business. It actually preys on regional chain stores as well. I hope you will keep speaking out for working families, and keep the predator corporations out of New York.
Wal-Mart has been compared to a retail plague: it makes everyone sick, and kills off the weak. This is not what New York City needs. Help keep suburban sprawl out of the boroughs.”
The Wall Street Journal reported on September 14th that Wal-Mart lost a shot at being part of a huge development in Brooklyn, New York–one of the coveted urban markets that the retailer has been trying to break open since at least 2009. This setback for Wal-Mart comes approximately one month after a developer in Queens, New York vowed that Wal-Mart would not be part of its project either.