Like a big city pimp waiting to pick you up off the ground when times get tough, Walmart was able to establish its first stores in Chicago through guile, perseverance, and a few meaningless reassurances. Smaller stores! $0.50 pay raise! Union-built! These are the meager concessions that led Chicago to sell-out their local retailers.
To fit into cities, Wal-Mart is proposing to make itself more trial-size. It would shrink its stores to as small as 8,000 square feet, about 4 percent of the size of an average supercenter. It is considering formats that are primarily groceries, stores where customers can order something online and pick it up, stores where local business owners can lease space, and even formats like bodegas.
In meetings with Wal-Mart, Chicago politicians won some concessions. For example, the Chicago stores will all be union-built, and Wal-Mart agreed to donate $20 million to neighborhood charities. Most significantly for a company that has been loath to strike deals on wages, Wal-Mart had agreed to an entry-level wage of $8.75 an hour, 50 cents higher than Chicago’s minimum wage as of July 1, Mr. Daley said.
Squeezed for cash and desperate for jobs, Chicago took whatever it could get. One labor leader hailed the wage deal as a “Chicago-only concession,” saying it was the “deal-clincher.” Walmart quickly put him in his place, explaining that the raise is “nothing new,” and that the “same is offered elsewhere around the country.”
Watch out New York, you could be next.