retail news in context, analysis with attitude

• The New York Times has an interesting story about potential problems when Amazon opens one half of its HQ2 in Long Island City, in the borough of Queens, and hires 25,000 people to work there.

The issue is toilets.

The Times writes, “It might seem mundane, but what happens in the bathroom matters: New York, for all its modern conveniences, sits atop a century-old sewage system used by more people than ever before. Every time someone flushes, washes their hands or takes a shower, all that household wastewater (and worse) flows down into 7,500 miles of sewer pipes. Most of these pipes also do double duty, collecting rainwater runoff from rooftops as well as streets.

“When these sewer pipes get clogged by humans — flushing baby wipes anyone? — or simply overloaded with rainwater, it becomes everyone’s problem. The ‘combined sewer overflows’ are discharged directly into nearby rivers, bays and creeks instead of going to wastewater treatment plants. Raw sewage also backs up in homes, creating a stomach-turning mess.”

Residents of the area say that such backups already happen. The city says that the pipes under Long Island City actually are in pretty good shape, and should be able to handle the influx of outflow.

And, in fact, “A 2012 city rule requires new developments to take measures to retain significant amounts of rainwater on site, such as using green roofs and porous pavements. As a result, city officials said, Amazon’s new headquarters would be an improvement over older buildings — and could actually end up reducing rainwater runoff in the sewage system.”


GeekWire reports that while “Amazon Books was the tech giant’s first take on brick-and-mortar retail,” there have been reports that “Amazon has abandoned several bookstore projects recently, though the company insists it remains on the hunt for new locations.

“Reports and permit records indicate that Amazon has not followed through on plans to build bookstores in at least three locations in Georgia, Colorado and Idaho. Amazon’s website lists 18 bookstore locations, but none in those three states.”

Amazon, however, says that it is not backing of its Amazon Books concept: “After three years of operating Amazon Books, we remain excited about all of our stores. In September and October we opened our 17th and 18th Amazon Books location in Pacific Palisades and Marina del Rey, CA, and we continue to look for new locations to bring Amazon Books.”
KC's View: