NYC unfairly biased against Wal-Mart?

Is this a boogeyman or a real threat?

New Yorkers’ fierce fight to prevent Wal-Mart from setting up shop in the city is well-known. But meanwhile, other big-box stores are quietly opening without a murmur of protest, like an Aldi store that launched in Rego Park, Queens, in February.

“People say that somehow New York City should erect a wall against Wal-Mart,” said Greg David, director of the business and economics reporting program at the City University of New York. “But Home Depot, Target, Kohl’s, the warehouse stores, now Aldi, are in important ways just like Wal-Mart.”

Follow Alison Bowen on Twitter at @AlisonatMetro.

Regardless of the alleged similarities, current Wal-Mart employees from across the country came to Manhattan Thursday night for a public forum, where they compared the superstore to a sweatshop.   

“They’re going to come into your communities, and once they put the other companies out of business, Wal-Mart will hold you all in their hands and the prices will go up,” warned Cynthia Murray, who has worked in the fitting room of a Maryland Wal-Mart for 11 years.

“Wal-Mart is not comparable to any store in the world,” warned Mark Tanis, owner of Shoppers World in East New York. “If Wal-Mart comes to New York, small-business owners like me will be run out of town.”

But David argued that the store’s size shouldn’t be scary — it is a mark of customer satisfaction.

“The only thing that distinguishes Wal-Mart is how successful it is,” David said.


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