Misinformation Abounds As Walmart Debate Resurfaces

Courtesy of Koonisutra via Flickr

We’ve been following the news that Walmart may be moving to the Gateway Center ever since rumors surfaced last April. In the face of a City Council hearing about the big box retailer, Walmart has launched a massive advertising blitz, with direct mail, broadcast advertisements and a NYC-oriented website. The nation’s largest retailer is taking its case to the people.

They are decidedly not, however, taking it to the City Council. The business declined to participate in the hearing, blasting the politicians for singling them out while other retailers, including Target, get by with no scrutiny. They claim the city is cowtowing to special interests.

“What should be clear, especially in this week’s activities, is that we are not going to be idle while others try to tell our story for us, and build that story on misinformation,” said Steven Restivo, a Wal-Mart spokesman. “We know we have a good story to tell. And quite frankly, we owe it to New Yorkers to be proactive in telling it.”

Those “special interests” disagree. Mom and pop stores all over the city, as well as labor unions, say the retailer is already using its enormous financial backing to smother public debate, suffocating it underneath the publicity blitz.

“Walmart is unwilling to take its message directly to the city council members-preferring an unfiltered monologue full of misleading factoids and disinformation,” says a post at the Neighborhood Retail Alliance’s website.

“They’re not showing up [to the City Council hearing] because they don’t have the stuff they say they have,” said Council speaker Christine Quinn. “They don’t have the data to refute what myself and others are saying.”

One thing is for sure though, Walmart is using its website and advertising spots to make a lot of claims, but not offering any data to back it up. Meanwhile, the opposition has compiled a slew of resources that show Walmart’s destructive tendencies on local economies.

Here’s a roundup of resources to get a fuller picture of what a Walmart coming to our community could mean: