This is an example of what a determined effort can do. The Beast of Bentonville is throwing in the towel in its efforts to get into the New York City market:
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 here.”
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.
Kudos for this effort go to the New York City Central Labor Council and the UFCW which worked together to spearhead a coalition to keep the Beast out of the city (that coalition spanned a wide variety of unions and other community groups). The coalition got out early and pushed the campaign as soon as people got a hint that Wal-Mart was sniffing around.
I would make one other observation that I raised at least a year ago, maybe longer than that (the old brain can't remember and I don't have time to look): the UFCW should be focusing a long-term effort on non-union Whole Foods. It has opened mammoth stores in New York, knocking out lots of other supermarkets. It is the Wal-Mart of high-end food. And I would argue that it is more vulnerable to strong consumer opposition (the "B" word) because people who shop at Whole Foods, given its higher prices and fancy produce, have more disposable income. In other words, unlike Wal-Mart, which preys on poverty, Whole Foods appeals to people who could make a decision not to shop there.