New York City citizens (Manhattanites), who have cried themselves to sleep at night hoping to have nearby Wal-Marts like most of the rest of us, can now, in the words of The New York Times, "fuhgeddaboudit."
Actually, the way the paper words it in a subhead is: "Wal-Mart to New York: fuhgeddaboudit," implying that the world's largest retailer is thumbing its bent nose at the city. The facts, as outlined in the article, tell a different story.
In "a meeting with editors and reporters of The...Times," H. Lee Scott Jr., President and CEO of Wal-Mart, basically acknowledged defeat in efforts to locate in the city, saying "that trying to conduct business in New York was so expensive - and exasperating - that 'I don't think it's worth the effort.'" Scott went on to blame union opposition "to Wal-Mart in New York, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles and other cities."
As The Times accurately if ungrammatically put it, "Much of the opposition to Wal-Mart in cities like New York is led by unions. Organized labor, fearing that the retailer's low prices and modest wages will undercut unionized stores, have [sic] built anti-Wal-Mart alliances with Democratic members of city councils."
"I don't care if we are ever here," Scott, in his frustration, told The Times. Ed Ott, executive director of the New York City Central Labor Council, responded, "We don't care if they're never here," indicating that his concern for the overall economic well being of his fellow New Yorkers is not exactly paramount.
The Times goes on: "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.'"
Perhaps he was referring to reporters Michael Barbaro and Steven Greenhouse (who penned the story Mr. Scott was gracious enough to give them) gratuitously informing their readers that Wal-Mart is "known for its dowdy merchandise."
That would be the "dowdy merchandise" on which many of Wal-Mart's customers depend to make ends meet, which others buy because it does not carry the artificially inflated price of unionization, and which might otherwise be described as value for money.
Among the ironies floating around The Times article were some of the ads in that very day's paper. There's the Chanel handbag for $2,750. Nice, but not as pricey as the Ferragamo Ostrich tote at $7,900. The Tanino Crisci loafers for $775. Exquisite, and also available in "milano, roma and firenze," if you're uncertain as to how exquisite. The Bulgari Assioma watch, starting at $29,000. Maybe a little too flashy, that one, but it must keep really, really good time.
As a matter of fact, we didn't see a lot of union-shop or even U.S.-made merchandise advertised in The Times that day...
Wait, now we get it. The unions aren't keeping Wal-Mart out of New York to better the lot of their members, some of whom might individually benefit from Wal-Mart prices or collectively from an expanded tax base. They're doing it to protect the snobbishness to which Mr. Scott and his company have been subjected.
What do we want? Solidarity! When do we want it? Well, certainly before all the Italian boutiques open.
We sure hope Mr. Ott, the union rep, doesn't miss the Brioni trunk show advertised in The Times. Gonna be lots of union labels in those fine suits.March 30, 2007