Aldi in, Wal-Mart changes plans

German retailer Aldi – short for Albrecht Discount – opened its first city store in Rego Park in February under the radar while Walmart continues to strategize a way to enter the New York City market.

Mired in political controversy over its potential impact on local mom-and-pop shops, Walmart has changed its business model for approaching large urban areas.

As reported in the Wall Street Journal, the superstore chain will begin its push to open hundreds of smaller stores in urban and rural locations under the moniker Walmart Express. New stores could be opened within a 15,000-square-footage, as opposed to the 185,000-square-feet of an average Walmart supercenter.

In addition to scaled-down stores, Duncan MacNaughton, Walmart’s chief merchandising officer, recently announced a new price matching policy that would “create the best one-stop shopping experience.”

Walmart has also taken its campaign to break into the city market to the Internet, garnering 33,616 “likes” on the companies’ New York City Facebook page. In addition, they have recently launched New Yorkers Speak Out (www.walmartnyc.com) which chronicles all positive feedback Walmart has received in recent months from elected officials and mentions in the press.

“You should let the marketplace decide,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “Anybody who has tried to manage the marketplace, it has not turned out very well. I think the Soviet Union is as good an example as you’d ever need of that,”

"As far as I can tell, my neighborhood has no problem with it,” said Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. “We are not supposed to be giving our stamp of approval or disapproval to businesses. That’s not our job."

Aldi – which opened its first national store in 1976 – is a privately held, non-union discount chain with 8,000 stores worldwide and 1,000 in the United States. They do not mind sacrificing name brands to appease bargain hunters, according to a recent article in The New York Times. The chain received little to no opposition in moving into their Rego Park location at 61-11 Junction Boulevard. Aldi boasts wide aisles and even wider discounts on their privately branded goods.

(The Courier editorial on Walmart)

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