According to Wal-Mart, These Are the New Yorkers Who Want a Wal-Mart

On yesterday's rumors that Wal-Mart was yet again trying to move in on the five boroughs -- and Wal-Mart's subsequent denial -- there appeared a curious bit of language in the statements issued by The Big Blue Box. Specifically, the bit about New Yorkers who want Wal-Mart -- a crushing force against local businesses, a vehemently anti-labor organization, a company who yet again stands accused of sex discrimination -- within the five boroughs. We checked in with Wal-Mart on who, exactly, these people are.

As a reminder, the statement Wal-Mart issued:

"We know that New Yorkers want to shop and work at Walmart, and as a result, we continue to evaluate potential opportunities here," says Steven Restivo, the company's director of community affairs. "New Yorkers want quality jobs and affordable groceries, and it remains our goal to be part of the solution."

And who, exactly, are these New Yorkers? And how do they know? Wal-Mart's Restivo responded:

New Yorkers currently spend more than $125 million a year at our local stores in Northern NJ, Southern CT and Long Island (this is an older figure and we're working to pull together more recent figures give all the inquiries today) and more than 80% of associates in our Valley Stream store live in the City.

Well, that employment statistic is likely, given that (the fairly well-off village of) Nassau County's Valley Stream is essentially on the border with Queens, though that's certainly too bad for Wal-Mart's Valley Stream workers, who have to pay taxes exclusive to residents within the five boroughs, while earning a wage right outside of them that doesn't compensate for the difference (and if Wal-Mart were to move within, given their past, likely still wouldn't).

As for that $125M, we've asked Restivo (yet again) to clarify what he means when he says "New Yorkers," and we're waiting to hear back. Do you go out of the five boroughs to shop at Wal-Mart? Again: You have our ears.

Update: Restivo responds: "Yep, New York City residents are already spending more than $125 million each year in our surrounding area stores."

Already?

2nd Update: Restivo on how they gather this information: "Furthermore, how they know this: "The dollar amount is based mostly on credit card transactions. We have about 140 million customers a week in our US stores and we survey them all the time. We get responses from about 500,000 customers a month."

[fkamer@villagevoice.com]


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