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  • The New York Daily News reports that Wal-Mart is eyeing a location in Downtown Brooklyn's Fulton Street shopping district as a site for its second New York City store. It already has announced plans to open its first Big Apple unit in Rego Park, Queens.

    Moving into urban neighborhoods is part of Wal-Mart’s ongoing growth strategy, as it attempts to move beyond the rural and suburban locations that have marked its progress so far. However, in some of these locations, it is expected that the company will run into opposition because of concerns about locally owned independent retailers that may have been serving these locations for decades.

    For non-New Yorkers who don’t understand how the city is structured, there are five boroughs making up the city of New York – Manhattan, the Bronx (where the Yankees play), Queens (where the Mets play), Brooklyn (where the Brooklyn Dodgers used to play), and Staten Island (where the ferry goes).

  • The Saginaw News reports that Michigan citizens in Saginaw Township, Portsmouth Township, and Pittsfield Township are fighting Wal-Mart’s expansion plans by citing a recent Penn State University study suggesting that family poverty rates rise in communities that have Wal-Marts in them.

    The study said that in communities with new Wal-Marts during the 1990s, the family poverty rate went up two-tenths of a percentage point, as opposed to a national family poverty rate that was down 2.4 percent during the same period.

    According to the Saginaw News, “more than low wages were to blame. Wal-Mart's impact changed the face of the job market in those communities.

    “’The mom-and-pop stores have their own accountants to do their taxes and have their own transportation people, but Wal-Mart has its own office somewhere out in Arkansas to do all that for them,’ said professor Stephan Goetz, a co-author of the study.

    “The increased poverty rate increased the burden on welfare and public assistance programs. Then there's the cost to add new traffic lights, roads, water and sewer infrastructure to accommodate the new store.”

    Wal-Mart has questioned the validity of the study, saying that its low prices help citizens in communities where it has stores.

KC's View:
The issue, of course, is whether low prices as provided by Wal-Mart have a cost all their own.