NEW YORK (CBS 2) – Wal-Mart may soon be coming to Brooklyn, but the retailer’s potential move is not popular with some local merchants who fear the competition.
“They are a monster that is going to eat us up,” Mark Tanis said.
Tanis, who manages the “Shopper’s World” store in East New York, said bringing a Wal-Mart to Brooklyn would put his store out of business.
“A jacket I’m selling for $24.99, they could easily come and sell that for $15,” he said.
In fact, Tanis said, Wal-Mart’s pricing and advertising power threaten the entire stretch of stores on Pitkin Avenue.
“I think it would look like a ghost town if Wal-Mart was to come,” he said.
Tanis is just one of many local business owners that have the city council planning hearings on Wal-Mart’s potential impact. This week, Wal-Mart countered with a splashy media campaign, including a Web site and radio ads.
Wal-Mart is said to be eyeing property near an existing mall just off the Belt Parkway, where many other big box retailers have already set up shop. Many people who spoke to CBS 2 say they’d be thrilled to have a Wal-Mart.
“Wal-Mart is what we need,” shopper LaShaun Munford. “We need more. We need a bigger variety.”
“To bring a Wal-Mart to Brooklyn, that’s tremendous,” said Patricia Randall. “We would love it. Bring it on!”
Public advocate Bill DeBlasio has done a study on Wal-Mart, and he thinks differently.
“In Chicago just a few years ago, Wal-Mart came in – and put 82 businesses out of business,” DeBlasio said.
DeBlasio said the closure of those businesses resulted in a net loss of jobs in the area.
Wal-Mart counters that it does create jobs, and provides communities with healthy and affordable food.
“There’s nothing wrong with that, but everyone needs to make a living,” Tanis said. “How am I able to live, to feed my family?”
The city council’s hearing on Wal-Mart, which had been scheduled for Wednesday, has been postponed until February 3. Wal-Mart has said it won’t show up, but instead, it’s asking the city council to look at the impact of all big box stories.