NEW YORK (CBS New York) The controversy over bringing Walmart to New York City faced a public hearing on Thursday. Small business owners and workers from across the five boroughs rallied on the steps of City Hall to keep the warehouse store giant out.
Walmart doesnt bring jobs; it takes away jobs. They kill jobs, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said.
Plans to open a Walmart in Brooklyn were to be the subject of an afternoon hearing. The retailer was making its third attempt to break into the five boroughs.
Council members** said theyre against the plan, but Walmart made a move it hopes will change some lawmakers minds, having reached a deal guaranteeing that union workers will build or renovate any stores it opens in the city over the next five years. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has previously said the retailer has a right to open in the city, and would employ a large number of people.
Quinn is leading the charge against Walmart saying the retailer eliminates jobs and pays below market wages. Thirty-five people were scheduled to testify at Thursdays hearing but Walmart representatives were not present.
I think it speaks volumes that they want to come to this city but they wont come before its legislature and talk about how quote-unquote great they think they are, Quinn said.
Representatives said the company would not attend the hearing because the city council was not considering the impact of Walmarts biggest competitors like Home Depot, TJMaxx and Target which have already opened retail locations in the city.
The retailers potential move is not popular with some local merchants. They said they fear the competition.
Mark Tanis, who manages the Shoppers World store in East New York, said bringing a Walmart to Brooklyn would put his store out of business.
They are a monster that is going to eat us up, Tanis told CBS 2′s John Metaxas. A jacket Im selling for $24.99, they could easily come and sell that for $15.
In fact, Tanis said, Walmarts pricing and advertising power threaten the entire stretch of stores on Pitkin Avenue.
I think it would look like a ghost town if Walmart was to come, he said.
WCBS 880 spoke with Queens City Councilman Erich Ulrich (R) who says Walmart will stimulate the economy.
Walmart was said to be eyeing property near an existing mall just off the Belt Parkway, where many other big box retailers have already set up shop. Many people who spoke to CBS 2 say theyd be thrilled to have a Walmart.
Walmart is what we need, shopper LaShaun Munford. We need more. We need a bigger variety.
To bring a Walmart to Brooklyn, thats tremendous, said Patricia Randall. We would love it. Bring it on!
**Along with Make the Road New York (MRNY).
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