Mar 16 2012
Walmart, the world’s biggest private employer, and one of the world’s largest corporations, has set its sights on Los Angeles County, getting ready to roll out a series of so-called “Neighborhood markets.” The first such store, about one fifth the size of the traditional big box Walmart stores, is slated for LA’s Chinatown area, in an apartment building near the corner of Cesar Chavez and Grand Avenues. At 33,000 square feet, the store would sell mostly groceries but still be nearly two thirds the size of a football field. Bolstering Walmart’s case is their claim that the location in question currently has only one other “full-service” super market in a 30 block radius in the area.
But some community activists are outraged at the idea and vow to fight it. The Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE), who in 2003 successfully led the effort against a Walmart Big Box store in Inglewood, cite poor working conditions as their main opposition to the Chinatown planned store. A press conference by LAANE last Thursday featured Walmart employees Angie Rodriguez and Greg Fletcher sharing their stories of how Walmart’s wages are so low, they require government assistance to survive.
In 2004, Los Angeles passed a city-wide ordinance banning big box stores, apparently in response to popular opposition to Walmart superstores. The proposed Chinatown Walmart would be the first of its kind in LA – it circumvents the superstore ordinance because of its relatively smaller size and products being limited to groceries. It would also be the giant corporation’s first new store in Los Angeles in nearly ten years.
GUESTS: Aiha Nguyen, Senior Policy Analyst on the grocery and retail project at LAANE; Chris Cheung of Wonder Bakery in Chinatown, a 30 year-old family owned business
Visit www.laane.org for more information. Visit Wonder Bakery in Chinatown at 943 N. Broadway, Los Angeles.