Residents Respond To Wal-Mart Plans

Residents in the areas surrounding Rego Park are expressing concern and frustration in response to word that retail giant Wal-Mart may be coming to Queens.
"I dont like the idea because of traffic," said Bob Doocey, a Middle Village resident and member of the Juniper Valley Civic Association. "I am opposed predominantly because of what it does to local business."
Touting the end of personalized service and community-mindedness, as well its effects on small retail stores, Borough President Helen Marshall expressed "grave concern" about Wal-Marts proposed plans.
And although a specific location has not been pinpointed as of yet, the arrival of the conglomerate will undoubtedly have a ripple effect in the nearby neighborhoods.
Wal-Mart spokesperson Daphne Moore told The Queens Courier, "There is still a lot of work we need to do with the community and elected officials." That sentiment, however, did little to assuage residents concerns.
"There used to be a Pergament store on Metropolitan Avenue," said Doocey. "It destroyed the business of local hardware stores. They utilize predatory pricing and small businesses then go under. I dont like giant stores who can price merchants out of business."
Another complaint of residents is that the community contributions of small business owners will not be duplicated by Wal-Mart managers and associates.
"They dont connect to the community like small businesses do," said Doocey. "Even a little thing such as recognizing a customer as they walk in is important. There is no corporate compulsion to treat customers as individuals. They may not even hire locals to work in their store."
"There is equilibrium when you have local stores whose owners have lived here for years," said Doocey. "I myself am willing to pay a few dollars more to have what a local mom and pop store offers theyre neighbors."
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