retail news in context, analysis with attitude

• The New York Times this morning reports that when the New York City Council yesterday held its twice-delayed (because of snow) hearing into the potential economic impact that Walmart opening stores could have on the city, Walmart wasn’t there to make its case or defend itself.

“Our decision not to attend today’s hearing has nothing to do with our willingness to answer questions or our belief that our stores would be good for New York City,” the spokesman, Steven Restivo, tells the Times, “and everything to do with the hypothetical nature of the proceedings and the fact that it ignores the hundreds of similarly sized stores that exist in the city today.”

The Times writes that Council speaker Christine Quinn “wasted no time pointing out Wal-Mart’s absence. ‘I want to say how deeply disappointed I am that one very important part of the equation, Wal-Mart, decided not to join us here today,’ she said as the hearing began. She said the company’s ‘refusal to attend, sadly, only leads me to be further skeptical about them as a company’.”

The story that notes that Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg “has said that New York should be open to any legal business that wants to come here. “

“You should let the marketplace decide,” he said yesterday. “Anybody who has tried to manage the marketplace, it has not turned out very well. I think the Soviet Union is as good an example as you’d ever need of that.”
KC's View:
Woody Allen, as prototypical a New Yorker as you are likely to find, once said that “90 percent of life is just showing up.”

That might be a good lesson for Walmart to learn as it looks to establish a New York beachhead.