What If Walmart Was Good for New York

walmart What If Walmart Was Good for New YorkSo Walmart is determined once again to invade New York. Could this actually be a good thing?

The Neighborhood Retail Alliance has a detailed post up with new information about Walmart’s plans for smaller stores in the city. But it sounds like these will be grocery store/mini-mart hybrids, not big-box department stores. In other words, there will be milk and jeans on hand, not jeans and stereos.

Granted this could still present a huge threat to family-owned bodegas and unionized grocery stores, to say nothing of the constantly imperilled mom-and-pops.

But if Walmart ends up competing with the chain stores that have already swollen the city, their presence could drive down prices and make groceries slightly more affordable.

Furthermore, there will be so much opposition to Walmart finally breaking into the city — from unions, politicians and communities — that some concessions might actually be won from the corporation, such as the base wages recently promised in Chicago in order to break into that market. And if Walmart can be forced to put more groceries in the city’s underserved neighborhoods, as was part of the reason for the Chicago Walmarts, then this could also be a boon for poorer New Yorkers.

Sure, this will be much worse, from a worker’s perspective, than having regulations in place that would encourage the construction and operation of retail stores citywide offering a living wage–an increasingly important issue as so many jobs in the city slide into the low-wage service sector.

But while it is still undeniable that Walmart is far from the nation’s best employer, perhaps it is the politicians and policymakers, and not the corporations, who are truly to blame for the current situation.

mchaban [at] observer.com | @mc_nyo