Wal-Mart is talking up its plans to build dozens and dozens of (relatively) small grocery stores, as a way to establish a beachhead in areas where it hasn't been able to enter. Like New York City. What will that mean?
Union opposition has always been able to keep Wal-Mart from infiltrating NYC. That may not be true any more. Cities need tax revenue more than ever, and Wal-Mart itself is equally desperate. The WSJ sums up their problem:
Sales have fallen for five consecutive quarters at Wal-Mart U.S. stores open at least a year, a key benchmark for retail businesses. The company's U.S. store growth has also stalled as it has begun running out of rural and suburban markets for its warehouse-sized supercenter stores, leaving large cities such as New York, Chicago and Los Angeles as the company's last frontiers for domestic expansion.
Wal-Mart is so omnipresent that it's almost literally saturated the United States of America. It needs to expand into cities to goose its profits, which are the only things that will keep Wall Street happy. The company's been working hard to clean up its image over the past five years or so—just today, it announced a new initiative to improve its food sourcing, making it more environmentally friendly and better for local farmers.
Wal-Mart has made plenty of positive changes. But it's still viciously anti-union, and it has constant low-level racism and high-level sexism scandals, and it still has the effect of killing small businesses in the communities where it sets up shop. That will happen here too. The grocery stores are simply one toe in the door. The rest of the ogre's body will soon follow.
What we want to know is: how bad is it working at Wal-Mart, really? We'd love to hear from any current or former Wal-Mart employees about their working conditions. Good? Bad? Obnoxiously corporate? Breathtakingly union-busting? Any outright racism or sexism evident? Or was it your favorite job ever? Tell us! Email us. We're happy to keep you anonymous. New York City hasn't had the Wal-Mart experience yet. We might as well know what we're getting into.
[Pic: Brave New Films]