The local lawmakers vowing to replace the soon-to-be-shuttered Sheepshead Bay Pathmark with a new supermarket won’t give people the thing they want most: a Walmart.
Rep. Anthony Weiner (D–Sheepshead Bay) and four other politicians have already written to six supermarket chains — including Key Food and Whole Foods — about leasing the building that takes up a half block on Nostrand Avenue between Avenue X and Avenue Y, but have refused to pitch the space to the Walmart, which makes some residents wonder exactly whom the pols are fighting for.
“I would love a Walmart here!” exclaimed Sheepshead Bay resident and frequent Pathmark patron Tina Trezza. “I practically live in the Long Island Walmart.”
The Pathmark site is not big enough to fit a Walmart Supercenter, but could possibly accommodate a Walmart Neighborhood Market — a newer, smaller store size that contains all the amenities of a typical supermarket that the company thinks would be a perfect fit in some areas of Brooklyn. The company is determined to open a store in Brooklyn and has been eyeing several spots in the borough, according to company spokesman Steve Restivo, who would not confirm that Walmart is interested in the Pathmark site.
In the Courier’s unscientific survey of shoppers, 13 out of 15 said that they’d want a Walmart for its low prices and sheer convenience.
“We really need a supermarket in this neighborhood and the prices are great at Walmart,” said Lisa Bach. “I already go to the North Jersey Walmart almost every weekend.”
Other shoppers were less passionate about the Walmart — citing well-publicized Walmart warnings, including reports that the retail giant pays its workers poorly and eliminates more jobs than it creates — but said that they’d welcome it just like any other replacement supermarket.
“I’ve heard about the complaints people have against Walmart, but I’d be comfortable with it replacing Pathmark,” said Phillip Coffield. “As long as it serves the community fresh food.”
But the elected officials at the rally, including Councilman Lew Fidler (D–Canarsie), state Sen. Carl Kruger (D–Brighton Beach) and Councilman Mike Nelson (D–Sheepshead Bay), insist the big-box puts mom-and-pops out of business.
“Everywhere Walmart goes, other businesses close,” said Weiner, who helped fight off Walmart when it wanted to open a store in Queens five years ago.
The pols also object to Walmart’s non-union policy, pledging to restore the union jobs of the soon-to-be-laid off Pathmark workers.
“We’d only accept Walmart if they’d end their policy of union-busting,” Weiner said.
Only Borough President Markowitz said he didn’t “have a philosophical objection to Walmart.” And Councilman Lew Fidler (D-Canarsie), who worked with Weiner 10 years ago to recruit Pathmark to Sheepshead Bay, said that he didn’t think that the neighborhood needs a Walmart.
“Walmart is not a supermarket, it is a big box store,” Fidler said. “That location needs a supermarket.”
Two Pathmark shoppers who we spoke to agree with the politicians, saying that they’d rather have a vacant lot than a Walmart.
“I don’t want Walmart because I don’t like how they treat their workers, small businesses or neighborhoods in general,” said Joyce, who declined to give her last name. “It’s time that Brooklyn had a chance to kick Walmart’s butt out.”
One thing is for certain, the latest Walmart war has begun.
“Everywhere Walmart goes, it creates battles in communities,” Weiner said.
©2011 Community News Group
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