business news in context, analysis with attitude

  • The New York Times reports that New York continues to present obstacles as it tries to “scale the fortress walls” of the city – one of the few places in the country where it does not operate stores.

    “In the past month, Wal-Mart has greatly stepped up its efforts to make New Yorkers warm up to it, running radio spots as well as ads in 70 community newspapers,” the NYT writes. “But even in a city that generally takes pride in welcoming outsiders, Wal-Mart is facing a formidable not-in-my-backyard problem. Whenever there are rumors that the company is contemplating this neighborhood or that, residents begin sounding off that they do not want a super-busy, colossal Wal-Mart near them, with all the expected traffic and pollution.”

    Wal-Mart was rebuffed - thanks to a combination of community, labor and political opposition – from opening a store in the borough of Queens, and reportedly is trying to get a store built on Staten Island. It recently ran an advertisement in the Staten Island Advance saying, "On Staten Island, you can start the Marathon, take a ride on the Ferry, spend a day at Historic Richmond Town, and do just about anything. The only thing missing is every day low prices." However, despite the fact that Wal-Mart says that many Staten Islanders are traveling out of the city to shop at one of its stores, it refuses to confirm that it is shopping for real estate on Staten Island, lest the opposition find time to marshal its forces.

  • The Los Angeles Daily News reports that Wal-Mart is about to open its first supercenter in LA County – a 205,000 square foot store in Palmdale.

    While numerous communities in California have expressed opposition to Wal-Mart’s stated plan to open more than 20 supercenters in the state over the next five years, there was no such resistance in Palmdale – the store is eight miles from the first Wal-Mart ever built in the state, and replaces another Wal-Mart discount store about a mile away.

  • Country singer Garth Brooks announced last week that his albums will only be sold at Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, and their websites.

    No time frame or financial terms of the deal were announced.

    The deal isn’t quite as dramatic as it sounds. Brooks retired from recording new music in 2001 and has sworn that he won’t tour or record a new album until his youngest daughter graduates from high school in about a decade. However, his catalog of previous albums sells at the rate of about 300,00 a year. (At ten bucks an album, which is about what many of Brooks’ albums sell for on, that’s about $3 million in volume – not bad revenue coming from a guy in retirement.)

    In addition, any retailer currently carrying Garth Brooks albums will be able to sell them off. They just won’t be able to get any more.

KC's View:
Brooks once sang, “Burning bridges one by one, What I'm doin' can't be undone.”

We suspect that when it comes to this deal, he’s wrong about that. If he decides to make a new album (and we have to admit that it won’t be taking up any space on our iPod) and decides to sell in places other than Wal-Mart, other retailers will welcome him back. Money talks.

(By the way, we checked. Garth Brooks isn’t available on iMusic. That speaks volumes.)