Thursday, March 29, 2007

Wal-Mart Walks Away

Good news for New York City - Wal-Mart is picking up it's ball and going home. From the New York Times:
Frustrated by a bruising, and so far unsuccessful battle to open its first discount store in the nation's largest city, Wal-Mart's chief executive said yesterday, "I don't care if we are ever [in New York City]."

H. Lee Scott Jr., the chief executive of the nation's largest retailer, said that trying to conduct business in New York was so expensive - and exasperating - that "I don't think it's worth the effort."

Mr. Scott's remarks, delivered at a meeting with editors and reporters of The New York Times, amounted to a surprising admission of defeat, given the company's vigorous efforts to crack into urban markets and expand beyond its suburban base in much of the country. In recent years, Wal-Mart has encountered stout resistance to its plans to enter America's bigger cities, which stand as its last domestic frontier.
And Lee has a childish explanation for why Wal-Mart has failed in New York City:
But as Mr. Scott sees it, there is another reason Wal-Mart has such a hard time making inroads into some of the nation's biggest enclaves. Speaking about what he sees as snobbish elites in New York and across the country, Mr. Scott added, "You have people who are just better than us and don't want a Wal-Mart in their community."
Or maybe it's Wal-Mart's poverty wages. It could be Wal-Mart's policy of pushing workers onto public assistance instead of providing real benefits. It's definitely the way Wal-Mart uses its size to undercut local businesses and drive them under to eliminate competition. Don't forget the gender-discrimination lawsuit against Wal-Mart. There's also Wal-Mart's punitive sick leave policies where a worker can be fired for taking care of a sick child. Frankly, when you're talking about reasons to not want Wal-Mart in your community, it's a pretty long list.

So here's some free advice to Mr. Scott : instead of sticking your head in the sand and insulting potential customers because they won't shop at your store, try treating your employees decently.

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