The fight over whether Wal-Mart should be allowed to open a retail location in NYC continues. The retailer recently released the above video to show New Yorkers what they can expect from a new Wal-Mart store. They’ve also been promoting their new mobile pharmacy that allows consumers to manage prescriptions from their mobile device. With their PR campaign in full swing, the fan page for WalMartNYC has now been liked by more than 18,500 people. Meanwhile, Robert Knakal, Chairman of the commercial brokerage firm Massey Knakal, wrote an editorial in The Observer today that compares the protection of small businesses in NYC from Wal-Mart to the preservation of Betamax or the Polaroid camera. He describes an imaginary alternative universe in which he:
“. . . would have had to use a Polaroid camera because new technologies would have not been allowed into the city because they would hurt the small businesses that sold the Polaroids. Similarly, CDs and digital audio/video equipment would not have been allowed to pass through the city’s borders because of the negative impact they would have on Betamax sellers and stores that sold 8-tracks. And, of course, those job-killing automobiles would never have been allowed to cross bridges and tunnels into the Big Apple for fear that they would put horse-and-buggy drivers, blacksmiths and buggy-whip manufacturers out of business. All these prohibitions would have been legislated with the virtuous objective of “saving small business.”
Knakal criticizes the politicians that he views as protecting their largest political contributors, organized labor, from their own obsolescence. He points out that “city residents travel outside New York to spend approximately $195 million per year at Wal-Mart stores in the surrounding metro area” and that “New York City is Wal-Mart’s No. 1 market for its online division.”
Though more than 70% of New Yorkers polled have expressed support for a Wal-Mart store, there remains staunch opposition, particularly by unions, and small business interests that fear low paying jobs and an inability to compete on pricing. The NY Post recently reported that NY shoppers could slash their grocery bills by 33% if they could shop at Wal-Mart in the city.
So what say you Village Confidential readers?