Saturday, February 12, 2011

Why are elected officials opposing a store that brings low prices to working-class consumers?

"The question, though, is why in capitalist democracy those fears of competition should determine public policy. New York is famous as the center of the nation's media business. But the city didn't step in and ban the Internet 15 years ago out of fear that the city's magazines, ad agencies, TV networks and music recording would be devastated by the new media. And many were.

The city's small groceries, diners, coffee shops, food trucks and boutiques also aren't quite as fragile as the Wal-Mart critics would have us believe. They've already survived the big-box, national-chain onslaught.

Home Depot first came to New York City in 1994. It now has 21 locations, including two in Manhattan. Target first opened in New York in 1998, and now has 10 stores, including one in Harlem. New York has Kohl's and Best Buy, Costco and Ikea, Olive Garden and McDonalds. For those worried about low-priced competition, the city already has 50 Family Dollar outlets. And Manhattan has 150 Duane Reade drug stores, often sharing the same block with thriving family-owned bodegas.

The varied, dense, energetic economy of New York City is very different than the commercial squares of the small towns where Wal-Mart earned its reputation for wiping out local merchants. In Gotham, anyone who doesn't like Wal-Mart's employment and business practices can work and shop elsewhere. Yes, Wal-Mart is nonunion, but Target and Home Depot and Starbucks are all nonunion as well, as are most mom-and-pop stores. 

Perhaps most importantly, it's puzzling why elected officials would oppose a store that, everyone agrees, brings low prices to working-class consumers who need those low prices more than ever."
Continue Reading