Busboys and Poets Owner Andy Shallal Says Four Walmarts In D.C. Would Be Devastating

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“To bring one Walmart [to D.C.] would be a big assault. To bring four Walmarts would be devastating,” said Andy Shallal, owner of the Busboys and Poets restaurants and chairman of Think Local First D.C.

A 2010 report by Hunter College and New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio reached a similar conclusion regarding Walmart’s potential impact on the Big Apple: “the entry of even a single Wal-Mart store in New York City could have a snowball effect and result in a negative long-term cumulative impact on the city’s economy and continued decline of the middle class.”

The report noted, “Wal-Mart is the world’s largest retailer with more than 4,300 stores in the United States and over 8,000 worldwide, with global sales topping $400 billion in 2009. It is the largest retailer in the U.S., where more than half its revenue comes from grocery sales. Wal-Mart’s formula for financial success includes: low-wage labor, limited health benefits, and leveraging of government subsidies.”

Last month at his restaurant at 14th and V St, NW, Shallal said, “Just its advertising budget alone exceeds the GDP of twelve countries in the world. It’s a company that thrives on really exploiting workers… all over the globe. They’ve sort of institutionalized the neocolonialism model of exploiting, abusing and then selling products at far lower prices than they should, in order for them to beat their competitors.”

The 2010 report said, “Eighty-five percent of Wal-Mart’s items are made overseas. The mega-retailer has faced numerous accusations of unacceptable conditions in the factories of their suppliers. Reported abuses include: ‘forced overtime, locked bathrooms, starvation wages, pregnancy tests, denial of access to health care, and workers fired and blacklisted if they try to defend their rights.'”

The Washington Post noted, “Last fall, Wal-Mart announced plans to open stores in Wards 4, 5, 6 and 7, and it has followed with a carefully orchestrated campaign to win support and disarm critics.” Also from the Post: “Wal-Mart’s charitable foundation has provided grants and donations to D.C. nonprofit organizations in recent years, including more than $2 million in fiscal 2010.”

Shallal said, “Walmart is really trying to hit all the notes. They’re meeting with city councilmembers. They’re meeting with community leaders. They’re basically charming their way into this city. They are not asking for any tax abatements, which is usually a way that opposition can form.”

The 2010 report stated, “Wal-Mart is trying to take advantage of the current economic downturn by promising an immediate infusion of jobs and investment dollars in city neighborhoods that have been hit hard by the recession. Considering the body of independent research that clearly demonstrates Wal-Mart’s negative long-term impacts on local economies, it would be shortsighted to allow this destructive retail monopolist to enter the New York City market via the Trojan Horse of ‘job creation.'”

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