WBEZ | Wal-Mart http://www.wbez.org/tags/wal-mart Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en River North Wal-Mart liquor license denial leads to suit http://www.wbez.org/news/river-north-wal-mart-liquor-license-denial-leads-suit-106082 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/walmart_corporate.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has sued the city of Chicago after local officials denied the retail giant a liquor license for its store in the River North neighborhood.</p><p>Wal-Mart has been denied a liquor license for the store, a Wal-Mart Express located at 225 W. Chicago Ave. near the Chicago Brown Line stop, according to the suit. It was filed Tuesday in Cook County Circuit Court, asking a judge to overturn the previous decisions.</p><p>The city&rsquo;s Local Liquor Control Commission told Wal-Mart in a November 2011 letter that it felt alcohol sales in that area would create a &ldquo;law enforcement problem.&rdquo; The commission said the store is situated next to single-occupancy establishments and two Methadone clinics, places &ldquo;that attract persons [...] who struggle with drug addictions, mental illness, and homelessness.&rdquo;</p><p>Wal-Mart appealed that decision, but the city&rsquo;s License Appeal Commission later upheld the denial.</p><p>A Wal-Mart spokesperson said in a phone interview Tuesday that the company is on the &quot;right side of the issue.&quot;</p><p>&ldquo;You don&rsquo;t have to look too much further than a few blocks in any direction to see that there are other business in the community, including a Walgreens, currently selling alcohol,&rdquo; said Steven Restivo, Senior Director of Communications for Wal-Mart.</p><p>A worker at that Walgreens location confirmed the store sells beer and wine, but not spirits. Restivo added that Wal-Mart has been &ldquo;a responsible operator&rdquo; at its other locations in Chicago that sell alcohol. Kathryn Ciesla, a Northbrook-based liquor licensing attorney, says the suit could be a way for Wal-Mart to tap into lucrative alcohol sales.</p><p>&ldquo;I anticipate that Walmart has spent millions of dollars investing in this facility,&quot; Ciesla said &quot;So my expectation is this means big bucks for Walmart.&rdquo;</p><p>An official from the city&rsquo;s law department refused to comment or give further details about the case Wednesday, saying the department has yet to be served a copy of the lawsuit.</p><p>Restivo said Wal-Mart has been in &ldquo;constant communication&rdquo; with city officials about the case.</p></p> Wed, 13 Mar 2013 17:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/river-north-wal-mart-liquor-license-denial-leads-suit-106082 Labor groups, employees protest during Black Friday at Chicago Wal-Mart stores http://www.wbez.org/news/labor-groups-employees-protest-during-black-friday-chicago-wal-mart-stores-103982 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/walmart_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Hundreds of protesters gathered outside Chicago area Wal-Marts today as holiday shoppers crowded the stores for Black Friday sales.</p><p>A group of Wal-Mart employees called the Organization United for Respect at Wal-Mart (OUR Walmart) transported protesters around the city in buses. Protesters want the nation&rsquo;s largest retailer to offer more dependable schedules, better health care and higher wages to employees.</p><p>Both sides have <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/17/walmart-union-idUSL1E8MGBV920121117" target="_blank">filed complaints</a> with the National Labor Relations Board as part of an their ongoing dispute.</p><p>Park Forest resident and Wal-Mart employee Marie Kanger-Born said she hopes the Black Friday protests will give the movement momentum.</p><p>&quot;The rest of the country has started to take notice of the plight of the Wal-Mart workers,&quot; Kanger-Born said. &quot;This is America. Everyone should be able to work one job and make a decent livable wage.&quot;</p><p>Chicago resident and Sam&#39;s Club employee Rosetta Brown said she has protested how Wal-Mart treats workers like her for more than a decade.</p><p>&quot;We&rsquo;re just tired of taking it and we need to be heard,&quot; Brown said. &quot;I mean, a person should be able to exercise their right to vote if they want a union. The workers are speaking out saying we need help and we&rsquo;re coming together. What&rsquo;s wrong with that? Wal-Mart should be listening and having a meeting with all of us.&quot;</p><p>Wal-Mart spokesman Kory Lundberg didn&#39;t address the protesters concerns directly but said Friday morning that the protests were not getting in the way of holiday shoppers. The company was on track to have its best-selling Black Friday event ever.</p><p>&quot;Last night during our Black Friday events we had only 26 protests occurred at stores (nationwide) and many of them did not include any Wal-Mart associates,&quot; Lundberg said.</p><p>He said Wal-Mart estimated that fewer than 50 associates participated in protests nationwide on Friday night.</p><p>&quot;In fact this year, roughly the same number of associates missed their scheduled shift as last year,&quot; Lundberg said.</p></p> Fri, 23 Nov 2012 09:03:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/labor-groups-employees-protest-during-black-friday-chicago-wal-mart-stores-103982 Charter-school agency’s funding raises questions http://www.wbez.org/content/charter-school-agency%E2%80%99s-funding-raises-questions <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-December/2011-12-14/Namaste_charter_SCALED.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-December/2011-12-14/Namaste_charter_SCALED.jpg" style="margin: 8px 18px 5px 1px; float: left; width: 302px; height: 238px;" title="Namaste is among 109 charter schools in Chicago. Suburban and downstate districts are less eager for such schools. (AP/File)">A new government agency could boost the number of charter schools in Illinois. But the way the agency is financing itself raises questions.</p><p>The Illinois State Charter School Commission, created by a law enacted this summer, can authorize charter schools that fail to win approval of local school districts. The per-pupil state funding for the charter schools comes at the expense of the districts. The commission will also monitor the performance of schools it authorizes.</p><p>Despite the commission’s responsibilities, the state has not provided it any startup money. The only public-funding mechanism won’t be in place until next July, when the commission can begin collecting a fee from schools it authorizes.</p><p>Greg Richmond, the commission chairman, said his agency will need between $100,000 and $200,000 to operate until then.</p><p>The law that set up the commission allows it to raise private money. The commission’s sole funding so far is a $50,000 grant from the Walton Family Foundation, which supports several Illinois charter school operators and their state trade group.</p><p>Told by WBEZ about this financing, Illinois Federation of Teachers President Dan Montgomery said it created a conflict of interest.</p><p>“This is really the rubber hitting the road — why we thought this was a bad law,” said Montgomery, whose union includes most K-12 teachers in Chicago. “The state should reconsider this. I don’t think the people of Illinois would stand for the gaming industry, say, to have the right to reverse a community’s decision not to allow a race track in its town. I don’t know why we wouldn’t give at least the same protections to the children of Illinois.”</p><p>A spokesman for the Illinois Education Association, the state’s largest teacher union, echoed Montgomery.</p><p>But the law’s chief sponsor, state Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago, said providing taxpayer funds for the commission’s launch would have been unpopular. “It was not going to make folks happy [to take] dollars away that could be going to the traditional public schools,” she said.</p><p>Other states have allowed charter school commissions to launch with private funding, Steans said.</p><p>The Illinois State Board of Education doesn’t see a conflict with the commission accepting foundation money, according to board spokeswoman Mary Fergus. “If we had any information that specific strings were attached to the donation/funding, that would be a problem,” Fergus said in a statement.</p><p>Before the commission’s creation, charter school operators that failed to win authorization from local school districts could appeal to ISBE. That state board received dozens of appeals but, according to Fergus, it reversed a district and authorized a charter school just three times.</p><p>Charter schools are independently run but depend on public funds. Most of their taxpayer support would otherwise go to local school districts.</p><p>Chicago officials have encouraged charter schools. On Wednesday, the city’s Board of Education approved a plan for 12 new charter school campuses. Chicago already has 109, a district spokeswoman said.</p><p>Elsewhere in Illinois, only 14 charter schools are operating. Officials in many districts say charters would weaken other schools by taking away students and resources. Those officials have been reluctant to authorize charter schools.</p><p>The nine commission members — recommended by Gov. Pat Quinn and appointed by ISBE — are already holding official meetings and overseeing a staff member, attorney Jeanne Nowaczewski.</p><p>The commission this month handled its first case, an appeal from a charter school operator spurned by school officials in west suburban Maywood. That operator withdrew the appeal last week after meeting with Nowaczewski, according to Richmond, the commission chairman.</p><p>The money for the commission’s staffing and other expenses so far comes from the Walton foundation. That family started Walmart and Sam’s Club. Other recipients of Walton grants include the Illinois Network of Charter Schools, a statewide umbrella. The foundation reports that it gave the network more than $1 million in 2010. Andrew Broy, the network’s president, said the amount for 2011 is about $950,000.</p><p>The network also serves as an intermediary — a “fiscal agent” in nonprofit parlance — for Walton’s funding of the state commission. Richmond said Nowaczewski receives her paychecks from the network, not the commission.</p><p>Richmond acknowledged that the Walton money could create the perception that the commission has a conflict of interest. But he urged the public to withhold judgment on the financing until seeing how the commission performs.</p><p>“We’re going to do everything possible to do the right thing, to act ethically, to make decisions based on the merits of what’s in the interest of kids, what’s in compliance with the law,” Richmond said.</p><p>Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office hasn’t issued an opinion about whether the commission’s funding meets legal and ethical standards, a spokeswoman said.</p><p>The Illinois Association of School Administrators, which represents most school district superintendents in the state, declined to comment about the commission’s financing.</p></p> Thu, 15 Dec 2011 11:49:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/content/charter-school-agency%E2%80%99s-funding-raises-questions Walmart makes inroads into Chicago's North Side with Lakeview store opening http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/2011-11-30/walmart-makes-inroads-chicagos-north-side-lakeview-store-opening-9444 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-November/2011-11-30/walmart-storefront.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" height="414" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-30/walmart-storefront-topper.jpg" title="A new Walmart Express opened up in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood on Wednesday. (WBEZ/Elliott Ramos)" width="630" /></p><p>Wal-Mart Inc. made inroads into one of Chicago&#39;s most affluent and predominantly gay North Side neighborhoods with its store opening in Lakeview on Wednesday morning.</p><p>The &quot;Walmart Express&quot; would be the second store of its type to open within the city, the first being in Chicago&#39;s Chatham neighborhood on the South Side, which opened in June. That&#39;s not counting the &quot;Walmart Neighborhood Market&quot; in the West Loop or the &quot;Walmart Supercenter&quot; on the far West Side.</p><p>Ald. James Cappleman (46th) was present for the opening ceremony. &nbsp;The store at 3636 N. Broadway St. shares a building with a storage facility and resides in Cappleman&#39;s ward. &nbsp;Also present was 44th ward Alderman Tom Tunney. Both were said to have helped the retailer navigate the various neighborhood and commerce groups, and address community concerns when the store proposal was first announced.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-30/ribbon.jpg" style="margin-right: 15px; margin-top: 15px; margin-bottom: 15px; float: left; width: 325px; height: 358px;" title="Ald. James Cappleman (46th), left, Walmart store manager Guy Lambsis, middle, and Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) cut the ribbon at the opening of a Walmart Express in Lakeview on Wednesday. (WBEZ/Elliott Ramos)" />&quot;I have been pleased with Walmart&#39;s outreach into our community and the steps they have taken to identify local residents for job opportunities,&quot; Cappleman said.</p><p>The store is a very scaled down version to that of its massive counterparts usually found in suburban communities. &nbsp;&quot;As you get to more densely populated neighborhoods like this, you have this Wal-Mart Express format that&nbsp;aesthetically fits in the community,&quot; said Wal-Mart spokesman Steven Restivo. &nbsp;</p><p>At 14,800 square feet, the store is roughly the size of a standard drug store, which is fitting, as it&#39;s right next to a long-standing Walgreens. &nbsp;</p><p>A statement says the store will offer &quot;convenient access for fill-in and stock-up shopping trips and features fresh groceries and pharmacy&quot; items.</p><p>The store is geared heavily toward grocery shopping, with customers being greeted by a produce section upon entering. &nbsp;This could signal a potential threat not only to its neighboring Walgreens, but the Jewel-Osco only two blocks south on Broadway and Brompton Avenue and nearby Whole Foods just west at Halsted Street and Waveland Avenue.</p><p>Wal-Mart has tried for years to break into the Chicago market, sometimes without success. &nbsp;But the battered economy and high unemployment rates have made officials more amiable to the stores provided they create much-needed jobs to their communities.</p><p>In 2006, then Mayor Richard M. Daley vetoed a City Council measure that put pay requirements on big-box retailers. The measure was clearly aimed at Wal-Mart.</p><p>Only four years later, Wal-Mart announced its &quot;Chicago Community Investment Partnership,&quot; a five-year plan to open several dozen stores. &nbsp;The company said this would create approximately 10,000 jobs and 2,000 unionized construction jobs.</p><p>That doesn&#39;t mean the company&#39;s effort to open a store in Lakeview was an easy one. &nbsp;The company faced objections from the South East Lake View Neighbors, a community group representing residents and businesses in the neighborhood. In May, residents <a href="http://neighborhoods.redeyechicago.com/boystown/news-report/2011/05/05/anger-and-concern-over-lakeview-walmart-at-screening/">attended a screening</a> of <em>Walmart: The High Cost of Low Prices</em> at Landmark Century Cinema, where activists had aired their concerns and encouraged others to join a small <a href="http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_159449284099168&amp;notif_t=group_activity">group on Facebook</a> called &quot;Stop the Lakeview/Lincoln Park Walmart.&quot;&#39;</p><p>Chicago Neighborhoods First, a community and labor advocacy group, released a statement on Wednesday that announced their &quot;continued efforts to hold Walmart accountable for its promises in Chicago.&quot; The group claims the company reneged on promises of starting wages of $8.75 an hour in 2010.</p><p>&quot;Those numbers were wages discussed by politicians,&quot; said Walmart spokesman Restivo. &nbsp;&quot;Our wages are competitive, if not better than similar businesses in the area.&quot;</p><p>&quot;This store is creating 45-50 new jobs, with 75 percent of those jobs going to those in the community,&quot; said Restivo. &nbsp;&nbsp;<img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-30/sandra.jpg" style="margin-left: 15px; margin-top: 15px; margin-bottom: 15px; float: right; width: 280px; height: 343px;" title="New Walmart Express employee Sandra Cooper, right, with store manager Guy Lambsis." /></p><p>One of those jobs went to South Side resident Sandra Cooper. The 41-year-old from Englewood said she was hired through <a href="http://www.thecaraprogram.org/">the Cara Program</a>, a Chicago job placement program. &nbsp;After being on the job market for three months, she said the job was an exciting opportunity. &nbsp;&quot;I can see myself growing with this company,&quot; she said.</p><p>Restivo said there was outreach to groups to hire within the community. &quot;There are three transgender employees working here,&quot; he said. The store is clearly within the boundaries of the established gay community known to locals as Boystown. &nbsp;</p><p>The ribbon-cutting ceremony was preceded with grants to various gay and lesbian non-profits and churches, which included Howard Brown Center, Lakeview Presbyterian Church, Center on Halsted and Open Arms Church.</p><p>When asked why the opening release said &quot;Walmart Express Opens in Wrigleyville&quot; and not Boystown or even Lakeview, Restivo stressed it was not any slight to the gay community, but that the broader public would be more easily able to associate the location because of Wrigley Field.</p><p>The semantics of borders for Lakeview, including Wrigleyville and Boystown, have always been up for spirited debate &mdash; especially amongst realtors.&nbsp;</p><p>Wal-Mart&#39;s next move for the neighborhood is a proposed store opening in spring of 2012 at Broadway and Surf Street &mdash; near another Walgreens.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong><a name="photos"></a>More Photos: Walmart Opens in Boystown</strong></p><p>&nbsp;</p><div id="PictoBrowser111130105105">Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer</div><script type="text/javascript" src="http://www.db798.com/pictobrowser/swfobject.js"></script><script type="text/javascript"> var so = new SWFObject("http://www.db798.com/pictobrowser.swf", "PictoBrowser", "630", "500", "8", "#000000"); so.addVariable("source", "sets"); so.addVariable("names", "Walmart Express Opens in Boystown"); so.addVariable("userName", "reporterel"); so.addVariable("userId", "31057741@N06"); so.addVariable("ids", "72157628221337387"); so.addVariable("titles", "on"); so.addVariable("displayNotes", "on"); so.addVariable("thumbAutoHide", "off"); so.addVariable("imageSize", "medium"); so.addVariable("vAlign", "mid"); so.addVariable("vertOffset", "0"); so.addVariable("colorHexVar", "000000"); so.addVariable("initialScale", "off"); so.addVariable("bgAlpha", "90"); so.write("PictoBrowser111130105105"); </script><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 30 Nov 2011 14:24:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/2011-11-30/walmart-makes-inroads-chicagos-north-side-lakeview-store-opening-9444 Walmart opens first store in downtown Chicago http://www.wbez.org/story/walmart-opens-first-store-downtown-chicago-92265 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-September/2011-09-21/photo.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Walmart is continuing to branch out in the Chicago market. It opened its first downtown store Wednesday.</p><p>This Walmart is not like the other Wal-Marts in Chicago or even Illinois. After years of battles with Chicago politicians and labor unions, the company is now gearing this new West Loop store to a more urban clientele. Walmart calls it a Neighborhood Market.</p><p>"Here is a juice display where we've essentially got about 16 feet of juice products for customers," Walmart spokesman Steve Restivo said while standing the middle of the juice aisle.</p><p>"The point is, again, even though the store is smaller, we still want to offer customers that broad assortment," he said.</p><p>The store has eight full-length aisles with products ranging from produce to mops and brooms. Restivo said six or seven more Walmarts are planned for inside Chicago's city limits, with even more in the works by 2015.</p></p> Wed, 21 Sep 2011 15:12:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/walmart-opens-first-store-downtown-chicago-92265 Economic development coming to Southeast Side http://www.wbez.org/story/economic-development-coming-southeast-side-92187 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-September/2011-09-19/Pullman Park - View 1 USB.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A neglected former industrial site on the Southeast Side of Chicago is poised to get some needed economic development.</p><p>U.S. Bank is donating land near 111<sup>th</sup> Street and the Bishop Ford Highway for construction of Pullman Park, a mixed-used project. Housing, big-box stores, a park and recreational facility are being planned. It’s supposed to bring 1,700 jobs. Wal-Mart is scheduled to be the first tenant by next year.</p><p>“The main goal here is economic development,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Monday at U.S. Bank.</p><p>Emanuel said this development would help eliminate the 9<sup>th</sup> Ward’s food-desert status. “This ward does not have any fresh fruits or vegetable grocery stores. It’s okay to drive outside the ward – you don’t need a passport to do that. The fact is that’s about to change.”</p><p>Pullman Park is billed as an anchor for the Pullman and Roseland communities.</p><p>“The biggest thing that can happen out of this development is bringing fresh produce to the 9th Ward. The fact that we do not have a grocery store we can go to in the community is criminal,” said Ald. Anthony Beale.</p></p> Mon, 19 Sep 2011 19:32:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/economic-development-coming-southeast-side-92187 Supreme Court blocks sex-discrimination suit against Wal-Mart http://www.wbez.org/story/supreme-court-blocks-sex-discrimination-suit-against-wal-mart-88067 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-June/2011-06-20/walmart.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>WASHINGTON -- A Supreme Court decision blocking a massive sex-discrimination lawsuit against Wal-Mart may have a far-reaching effect.</p><p>It's expected to make it harder to mount large-scale bias claims against the nation's biggest companies.</p><p>The justices all agreed that the lawsuit against Wal-Mart Stores on behalf of female employees cannot proceed as a class action in its current form. But the high court split 5-4 over whether the plaintiffs should get another chance to make their case.</p><p>Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the court's conservative majority, said there were no common elements tying the women's complaints together.</p><p>But Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, writing for the court's four liberal justices, said there was more than enough uniting the claims.</p></p> Mon, 20 Jun 2011 16:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/supreme-court-blocks-sex-discrimination-suit-against-wal-mart-88067 Inspector General Joe Ferguson maps out challenges of MWBE program http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-04-12/inspector-general-joe-ferguson-maps-out-challenges-mwbe-program-85064 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-April/2011-04-12/city construction.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>On Monday <em>Crain’s Chicago Business</em> <a href="http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20110409/ISSUE01/304099979/crains-investigation-wal-marts-austin-project-comes-up-short" target="_blank">reported</a> that Wal-Mart fell short in its promise to be a good neighbor to parts of Chicago’s minority communities. The company hired a black woman contractor to build its first Chicago store in Austin on the city’s West Side. But much of the work went to non-minority owned contractors.</p><p>While Wal-Mart is a corporate entity, the City of Chicago has a program to ensure minority businesses get some of the construction action. But some say the <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/comp/provdrs/certification_andcompliancesupplierdiversity/svcs/mbe_wbe_bepd_programs.html" target="_blank">Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise Program</a>, or MWBE, isn’t hitting its goals.<br> <br> Chicago Inspector General Joe Ferguson issued <a href="http://chicagoinspectorgeneral.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/Report_MWBE-ProgramReview.pdf" target="_blank">a report in 2010</a> detailing the program’s shortcomings. In May he will issue an update to the report. He joined <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> to explain what challenges exist for minority and women-owned businesses seeking contracts.</p></p> Tue, 12 Apr 2011 13:04:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-04-12/inspector-general-joe-ferguson-maps-out-challenges-mwbe-program-85064 What's behind Wal-Mart's push for smaller stores? http://www.wbez.org/story/big-box-store/whats-behind-wal-marts-push-smaller-stores-84096 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-March/2011-03-23/walmart.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:PunctuationKerning /> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas /> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:Compatibility> <w:BreakWrappedTables /> <w:SnapToGridInCell /> <w:WrapTextWithPunct /> <w:UseAsianBreakRules /> <w:DontGrowAutofit /> </w:Compatibility> <w:BrowserLevel>MicrosoftInternetExplorer4</w:BrowserLevel> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:LatentStyles DefLockedState="false" LatentStyleCount="156"> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if !mso]><object classid="clsid:38481807-CA0E-42D2-BF39-B33AF135CC4D" id=ieooui></object> <style> st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } </style> <![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 10]> <style> /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} </style> <![endif]-->It took several years, but Wal-Mart won a PR battle against unions to build several stores in Chicago. One way it did that was to say Chicago had plenty of retail opportunities for everyone &mdash; for Wal-Mart&rsquo;s big-box stores and for smaller shops to fill in the gap. But now the world&rsquo;s largest retailer is testing smaller, convenience-style stores of its own, and many wonder if these so-called &lsquo;baby Wal-Marts&rsquo; will alter the city&rsquo;s retail landscape.</p> <p>I met Ald. Howard Brookins on W. 83<sup>rd</sup> Street.</p> <p>There&rsquo;s empty land and storefronts now but this spring <a href="http://investors.walmartstores.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=112761&amp;p=irol-newsArticle&amp;ID=1539962&amp;highlight=">Wal-Mart </a>could dominate the footprint &mdash; and not with just one huge store.</p> <p>There will likely be a big-box building, but also an express store &mdash; the size of a 7-Eleven.</p> <p>I asked Alderman Brookins if <span style="">two</span> Wal-Marts are <span style="">too<i> </i></span>many.</p> <p>BROOKINS: Well some type of convenience store would&rsquo;ve went here anyway. So I don&rsquo;t see it as being competition. There are just people who will not go into a supercenter if they want to grab one or two items. So right now, I think that it will be okay and we&rsquo;ll see.</p> <p>One of the biggest criticisms hurled against Wal-Mart is that it wipes out nearby <a href="../../../../../story/news/study-wal-mart-not-economic-engine">small businesses</a>.</p> <p>Brookins says that&rsquo;s not happening here.</p> <p>BROOKINS: Small businesses had six years to try to lease any of these spaces and we&rsquo;ve got nothing. It appears that Wal-Mart is clearly the one that&rsquo;s going to drive the market and traffic to this particular area.</p> <p>And, Brookins says, the situation&rsquo;s not all bad for small business.</p> <p>Wal-Mart has promised to support local entrepreneurs. Brookins says a hair salon and optometrist are among vendors that are supposed to have space in the supercenter.</p> <p>But the Arkansas-based company did not respond to requests for interviews about how smaller stores square with that.</p> <p>One person who&rsquo;s thought about why Wal-Mart&rsquo;s changing strategy is R.J. Hottovy, the director of consumer research for Morningstar. He says Wal-Mart has saturated rural and suburban areas, and smaller stores will make Wal-Mart viable in land-locked urban areas.</p> <p>HOTTOVY: What we&rsquo;ve seen in the recession was that Wal-Mart did lose market share to dollar stores and I think that this is a way for them to recapture that market share.</p> <p>Hottovy says the downside is that small businesses can&rsquo;t directly face Wal-Mart, which tends to have lower prices. Smaller businesses might have to find niche markets.</p> <p>But there are business people who feel that isn&rsquo;t necessarily bad for neighborhoods.</p> <p>Melinda Kelly is executive director of the Chatham Business Association.</p> <p>KELLY: It does have to be managed and tempered with some initiatives to make sure we protect the community, protect the small businesses. Wal-Mart has a huge buying power. That buying power that they have the ability to share with the community is crucial to bring it to the community and to be quite honest some stores don&rsquo;t have that kind of buying power.</p> <p>Neighborhood protection could include having Wal-Mart stock its shelves with locally-produced products and drawing up community benefits agreements.</p> <p>But these measures haven&rsquo;t been enough for Chicago unions.</p> <p>They wanted a different kind of agreement. Organizers waged a political fight for a big-box living wage, designed to make Wal-Mart pay higher wages to employees. Unions lost that fight at city hall, and Chicago alderman began to approve Wal-Mart stores.</p> <p>Amisha Patel was part of that union push. She heads Grassroots Collaborative, a coalition of community and labor organizations. Patel says Wal-Mart&rsquo;s latest small-store strategy doesn&rsquo;t surprise her.</p> <p>PATEL: That&rsquo;s their plan to do these different-sized stores. Getting their name Wal-Mart out there in these different neighborhoods from Presidential Towers to Englewood, right? Their idea is really to just brand themselves and to get themselves out there so it becomes normalized that there&rsquo;s a Wal-Mart on every corner, right? Which I think is the direction they&rsquo;re moving in.</p> <p>Patel says union and community organizers will still press the issue of wages at Wal-Mart stores, regardless of how big or small those stores will be.</p> <p>It&rsquo;s likely Patel will be busy. Wal-Mart&rsquo;s investment in Chicago includes six more stores. Two will be express marts.</p></p> Wed, 23 Mar 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/big-box-store/whats-behind-wal-marts-push-smaller-stores-84096 Mayoral hopefuls face off at activist forum http://www.wbez.org/story/big-box/mayoral-hopefuls-face-activist-forum <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/DelValle3.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago mayoral candidates are facing each other in three forums this week. But former White House chief-of-staff Rahm Emanuel isn&rsquo;t participating in any of them.<br /><br />At a community activist forum Tuesday night, several of Emanuel&rsquo;s competitors slammed him as they pointed to an empty seat with his name on it. <br /><br />City Clerk Miguel del Valle accused Emanuel of stalling efforts to overhaul the nation&rsquo;s immigration laws. &ldquo;The individual who was supposed to sit in this chair is the individual most responsible for blocking immigration reform in the United States as a congressman [and] as the chief of staff to the president,&rdquo; del Valle said. &ldquo;How are we to expect him to protect the rights of immigrants in this city? It won&rsquo;t happen.&rdquo;<br /><br />The only other candidate hit with criticism was lobbyist Gery Chico. Former U.S. Senator Carol Moseley Braun answered a question about Chicago school closings by pointing to Chico&rsquo;s years as school board president. &ldquo;Quite frankly, Mr. Chico, you need to be responsible for some of the things that went on with the Chicago public schools,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;We can do better. Our future depends on it.&rdquo;<br /><br />Chico responded. &ldquo;In 1995, the Illinois General Assembly said our schools were in crisis, long before I got there. And by the time I left in 2001, we were on the upswing,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t close schools. We built them.&rdquo;<br /><br />About 2,000 people attended the forum, sponsored by New Chicago 2011, a coalition of more than two-dozen groups. It took place at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Besides education, topics included violence prevention, human rights, jobs and housing.<br /><br /><strong>To hear the entire 74-minute forum, select &ldquo;Listen to this Story&rdquo; (above). Note that forum organizers turned off the microphone whenever a candidate exceeded a time limit.</strong></p></p> Wed, 15 Dec 2010 06:48:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/big-box/mayoral-hopefuls-face-activist-forum