If you think the fight over the Whole Foods in JP was bad just wait until Wal-Mart tries to build anywhere in town. The Herald is reporting today that Wal-Mart is still eyeing a parcel for a 40,000 square foot "Neighborhood Market" store.
Wal-Mart has said the Bentonville, Ark.-based company is looking in Boston to build its Neighborhood Market store. At about 42,000 square feet, the store would be a quarter the size of the typical SuperCenter. Steven Restivo, a Wal-Mart spokesman, could not be reached yesterday, but has told the Herald that the firm is having conversations with elected officials and business groups “in an effort to better understand the unique challenges facing Boston and how we can work together toward solutions.” He declined to identify specific city locations.
City Councilor Michael Ross said he is open to the idea of locating a Wal-Mart in Boston. He said the corporate giant is trying to change its image as a low-wage, no benefits, employer.
“They should be given the opportunity to make their case,” Ross said.
State Rep. Martin Walsh, a Dorchester Democrat, and general agent for the Boston Building Trades Council, said Wal-Mart should be heard.
“If they’re willing to negotiate, that’s a starting place, and I would be willing to have that conversation,” Walsh said. “People want the opportunity to buy groceries and household items at a lower cost.”
It's nice that some Boston gatekeepers are willing to at least consider Wal-Mart's expansion plans for the city. Wal-Mart still doesn't have the guy they need in their corner though.
Anywhere Wal-Mart tries to go they attract disdain from the local community that usually goes away after the project is over because everybody comes to the realization that paying $7 for a polo shirt is pretty awesome. The situation in Boston will be no different. If this ever gets beyond the "Hey we're thinking of doing this let's have some informal conversations" stage there will be union organized protests, probably some organizers for Wal-Mart too, plenty of shouting at city meetings, and maybe some stupid sing alongs by old white haired hippies who have nothing better to do. It will be one heck of a circus so get your popcorn ready.
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