Battle To Bring Walmart To NYC Faces Public Hearing

NEW YORK (CBS New York) — The controversy over bringing Walmart to New York City faced a public hearing on Thursday.  Small business owners and workers from across the five boroughs rallied on the steps of City Hall to keep the warehouse store giant out.

Christine Quinn on concerns small businesses have about Walmart

“Walmart doesn’t bring jobs; it takes away jobs. They kill jobs,” City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said.

Plans to open a Walmart in Brooklyn were to be the subject of an afternoon hearing. The retailer was making its third attempt to break into the five boroughs.

Council members said they’re against the plan, but Walmart made a move it hopes will change some lawmakers’ minds, having reached a deal guaranteeing that union workers will build or renovate any stores it opens in the city over the next five years. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has previously said the retailer has a right to open in the city, and would employ a large number of people.

WCBS 880 Anchor Wayne Cabot talks with fmr. Walmart Exec. Michael Bergdahl explains the Walmart culture

Quinn is leading the charge against Walmart saying the retailer eliminates jobs and pays below market wages. Thirty-five people were scheduled to testify at Thursday’s hearing but Walmart representatives were not present.

“I think it speaks volumes that they want to come to this city but they won’t come before its legislature and talk about how quote-unquote ‘great’ they think they are,” Quinn said.

Representatives said the company would not attend the hearing because the city council was not considering the impact of Walmart’s biggest competitors – like Home Depot, TJMaxx and Target – which have already opened retail locations in the city.

Local merchants say Walmart is bad for business

The retailer’s potential move is not popular with some local merchants. They said they fear the competition.

Mark Tanis, who manages the “Shopper’s World” store in East New York, said bringing a Walmart to Brooklyn would put his store out of business.

“They are a monster that is going to eat us up,” Tanis told CBS 2’s John Metaxas. “A jacket I’m selling for $24.99, they could easily come and sell that for $15.”

In fact, Tanis said, Walmart’s pricing and advertising power threaten the entire stretch of stores on Pitkin Avenue.

“I think it would look like a ghost town if Walmart was to come,” he said.

Small business owners and workers say Walmart takes away jobs

WCBS 880 spoke with Queens City Councilman Erich Ulrich (R) who says Walmart will stimulate the economy.

Walmart was 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 Walmart.

“Walmart is what we need,” shopper LaShaun Munford. “We need more. We need a bigger variety.”

“To bring a Walmart to Brooklyn, that’s tremendous,” said Patricia Randall. “We would love it. Bring it on!”

Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio has done a study on Walmart, and he thinks differently.

“In Chicago just a few years ago, Walmart 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.

Walmart 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?”

Sound off about Walmart in NYC below.

More from Rich Lamb
  • KPMc

    When I was a kid people bought their pre-made coffee from the coffee shop/candy store on the corner.

    People bought their Pizza from a 1st-generation Italian family at a Pizzeria.

    And your prescriptions and other personal needs were filled at a neighborhood mom and pop/family pharmacy.

    But then came progress and no one put up much of a stink when Starbucks, Domino’s and Rite Aid/CVS (and several other huge drug chains) invaded NYC.

    Now I, personally, would never pay 5 bucks for a cup of coffee, eat the soft cardboard Domino’s calls pizza and I go to a local pharmacist who owns his own store.

    But this is America… land of capitalism and competition which BENEFITS us all. We don’t (or at least shouldn’t) have the right to deny a legitimate business the opportunity to operate where they legally can just because they will win the battle with their “competition”… BUT YOU DON”T HAVE TO SHOP THERE.

    When I am out of the NYC area and go to a Wal-Mart I must admit I am amazed at the selection and prices. As a consumer why shouldn’t I have the opportunity to shop for the best available prices?

    The politician’s who are so adamant about keeping Wal-Mart out are doing it for one reason. Their own political gain. So when Christine Quinn is mayor and you finally realize the deception and lies she uses to further her career don’t complain because we are all complicit in her (and others) self-serving shenanigans.

    When did America stop being America but I sham for special interest groups and self-serving politicians?

  • Junior J

    Everybody hates Walmart, but how funny it is that these stores are always packed and there are always lines at the register! We hate them, but we love them! Why the heck should I have to pay $25 for something that Walmart slles the same thing for $15???? Everything in NYC is overpriced, because of high rents and high taxes!

  • tom marsh

    i would love to see asuper walmart here i!!!!! i shoped in one in kingston great store !!!!!!!!!!!

  • Isagani Vecino

    I have been visiting NY as a tourist twice and I tried to find Walmart in Manhattan area., but unfortunately none. Only in Nassau, LI. We really want low prices for our gifts to bring home in our country of origin. We love american standard products. Putting Walmart in Manhattan area is a big hope for shopping lovers tourist like me, my family in tow. Approval is the answer, mayor Bloomberg.

  • Dee

    WalMart are nothing but Non-Union, Scab Leeches, they give out wages that are pathetic at best, and medical benefits are only given to full time workers, and they don’t cover the entire family. They are a bunch of liars as well as cheats. Persona Non Grata in New York! Translation: “You are not welcome in New York”!!

    • DanTe

      So the “hero” small businesses pay living wages? Like they’re paid on the books at all? Are you trying to actually tell us that small businesses provide full medical insurance?

      Here’s a hint: the more you lie, the more people see the truth.

  • Thomas

    They wont be hiring illegals that are taking american jobs.And they hopfully wont be cheating on taxes like nmost small businesses do.

  • karen

    Larry, they are the largest importer of foreign goods in America.

  • eric

    Lezzie Fair NYC, Hands off big buisiness!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • mike

    wallmart will bring in povertylevel jobs that no one can live on.

  • Ricardo

    America continues to shoot itself in the foot, it is time to employ American Union workers, to statrt shopping at companies that encourage production of the wares that they sell here in America, I know that this is a cry in the dark now but the worst thing that could happen and a true step backwards is employ people at jobs whose salaries do not afford them health care coverage or salaries that are not bordering the poverty line. More folks in the working poor class, we got enough stores for now.

    • Johnny

      It’s time to employ American non-union workers. I don’t want the costs of my goods to go up simply because some dude stocking shelves feels he deserves full benefits all while holding customers hostage when they can’t agree on a “contract”.

  • Larry

    KAREN CORRECTION: When it comes to American Made goods, Wal Mart is the #1 Retailer of USA made goods in the country. That is a well known statistic.

  • Karen

    Trish, nothing WalMart sells is made in America.

  • Sarah

    “Tanis, who manages the “Shopper’s World” store in East New York said bringing a Walmart 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.”

    Yes, it is called capitalism! Get out of the US if you don’t like it! Welcome Wal-mart!!!

  • Louis

    Nassau County thanks the NYC Council for sending mores sales tax revenues to Walmarts in Valley Stream and Westbury.

  • flyingbird

    when a business is strong people try everything to put it down.don’t give up walmart

  • Trish

    Welcome Walmart and give foreign owned (Ahold) Stop and Shop some competition. Maspeth, Middle Village, Glendale etc need more American choices.

  • Margaret Swanson

    I wish Walmart would open a store in Manhattan.

  • Ignorante Elephante

    Here is another one of the problems with the “Great Foundation” that we think we are creating. Wal-Mart wants to come to Brooklyn. Locals LaShaun Munford , Patricia Randall, and probably most others welcome the selection and savings the store would bring, but Christine Quinn and Bill DeBlasio, the elected politicians, won’t allow it because, according to them, jobs would be lost. Apparently, they know better than the local consumers. That they can block popular sentiment with unsubstantiated claims is alarming. That they can shake down Wal-Mart for union work, to use Christine Quinn’s words, “speaks volumes.” Competition is what drives the price down. People in Brooklyn will end up paying more for the merchandise that Wal-Mart sells from the “mom and pop” retailers because elitists with a political agenda say so. Bill DeBlasio, as Public Advocate, should be ashamed of the propaganda he spreads. Never are we enlightened with actual statistics like the names and locations of these “mom and pop” stores, what they sell and for how much, how many jobs they currently provide, and the number of jobs Wal-Mart will bring. We’re just told Wal-Mart is bad and expected to file in right behind them on the bully pulpit. I guess they are just smarter than us.

    • Jeff

      They may actually be smarter than you, since you clearly didn’t even bother to read the article. DeBlasio did give statistics. He said 82 stores in Chicago closed after the Wal-Mart opened there, resulting in a net loss of jobs in the area. Did you even bother to get that far before you fired off your response? Do you really want the names and locations of the “mom and pop” stores in Chicago? Are you unable to understand the phrase “net loss of jobs” or do you actually need the numbers on “how many jobs they provide and the number of jobs Wal-Mart will bring?”

      I actually couldn’t care less about whether or not a Wal-Mart shows up in Brooklyn, but unless you’re willing to out and out call DeBlasio a liar, and back it up with facts of your own, then why waste the space?

  • Homie

    Walmart equals tons of traffic but they create jobs. As for the jobs lost from local stores, give them the jobs. I stay away from walmart because sometimes u sit in a traffic jam for an hour. Case in point is the walmart store in north Bergen Nj. Give people the choice!

  • linda

    i want walmart in Staten Island!

  • Larry

    Joe correction: Target has 1,750 stores in the usa while wal mart has approximatly 4500 in the usa and 4000 international locations…so yes there is a size difference, but target is just as much a coorporation as walmart…don’t be fooled. They have almost as much buying power and do the same undercutting that walmart does…they just seem to get away with it easier. Do we all forget how Target prohibiited salvation army members from collecting at their stores at christmas..seems very “evil corporation” like to me

  • Johnny

    I don’t understand this. There are already lots of chain stores here and don’t see the issue. It’s too bad if mom and pop stores cannot compete in todays market. I also don’t understand why Walmart has to entice the city council with Union work to win them over. That’s a bunch of garbage

  • sk

    Peopel are saying a Walart will bring in more jobs. But if many stores are put out of business they will los jobs, as well. Its a lose lose situation! But we have to remember we live in a capitalist society. one bad part about taht is soem busineses is make it and others don’t! that maybe sad but what can you do?

  • CSI

    There is a big IKEA and i dont see people complaining about that.

    • jtorres

      The difference is IKEA sells furniture and furnitutre related products, cheap. They won’t put the quality (and expensive) furniture stores out of business becuse they don’t offer the same thing. Walmart sells everything under the sun including food. All the smaller stores sell the same things but more expensive just to break even. They will lose customers to Walmart, and thus, go under .

  • Joe

    Kurt, it’s a matter of scale. Target has 100-150 locations world-wide and revenues of around 65 billion USD. Wal-Mart has 8500 locations and revenues of over 400 billion USD — six times the revenue of Target (all figures are c. fy2009). Target is little more than a street peddler compared to Wal-Mart’s Borg Cube of a big box store. In addition, Target isn’t as complete a big box as Wal-Mart is, which means that Targets haven’t been blocking out other businesses the way that Wal-Mart can: the idea being that if you offer nearly everything that your customers need in a single location, they will go there for all the the items on their shopping list in a single trip (vs. going to one store for shoes, another for sheets, a third for milk & bread, and a fourth for a can of paint).

    Could we use a Wal-Mart in New York City? Yes. But put it in a location that needs economic development and not right down the street from thriving businesses that could never survive Wal-Mart’s competition.

    • Johnny

      “But put it in a location that needs economic development ” Translation: Give the homies a place to use their benefits card.

  • mg

    Let ’em in, you bigots!

  • Steven B.

    Competition is a good thing especially when the dollar needs to be stretched further. I go to Target once a week to do most of the food shopping and save at least 20 to 30% over Waldbaums. People need choices and unfortunately the small mom and pop shops (which I really like) can’t give value for the basic items which us consumers use everyday.

  • Greg

    Let the people have a choice of where to shop. Look at all of the other BOX STORES that are in New York. The only issue I can see is that traffic on the Belt Parkway will be a NIGHTMARE…

    • Louis

      Traffic on the Belt hss a NIGHTMARE forthe lasy 30 years. It need to be expanded into a full fleged freeway.

  • Margaret Femia

    Mall-Wart came to our town with plans for jobs and low prices. It brought more traffic than our roads could handle, jobs were given to our-of-state folks, poor quality merchandise. Mall-Wart is junk. Brooklyn: Just say no !!

  • Kurt

    I don’t unstand what the problem is, the company will be bringing in jobs to a community that needs work. And what is the difference between Walmart and Target, they are both the same thing. There are Targets popping up everywhere and there are no complaints from the so-called local merchants.
    So let Walmart live n Brooklyn.

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