Small business owners don’t want a Walmart in the recently announced Flatbush Avenue shopping center, but that doesn’t mean they fear the big box behemoth.
“I can’t control Walmart but they won’t make my store go away,” said Liz Pasterak, the owner of Humble Sweet Shop on Quentin Road in Marine Park. “My shop has been here for 17 years. People know me from the neighborhood and they know the store.”
Many local shop-keepers in the Mill-Marine area echoed a similar sentiment: they don’t like the idea of a nearby superstore that sells everything from vegetables to DVDs, but they believe that they can hang on to their customer base.
“It doesn’t bother us if Walmart comes here, they’re no competition for us,” Quentin Market Corporation’s manager, who declined to give his name. “We’re a smaller, local shop and very convenient.”
Walmart has been on an epic quest to open in Brooklyn. The company recently launched a major advertising blitz to garner support for its first store within New York City, which is rumored to be heading for the planned Gateway II shopping center in East New York. Last week, it was revealed that Forest City Ratner plans to build shopping center on the Southern tip of Flatbush Avenue dubbed the Four Sparrows Retail Center which could fit a Walmart as well.
Walmart’s PR campaign includes a poll showing that 76 percent of Brooklynites would welcome the superstore for its wide-range of products and for job opportunities.
But Walmart opponents, such as Walmart Free NYC, cite studies showing that Walmart actually eliminates more jobs than it creates by driving mom-and-pop shops out of business. Walmart Free NYC will even host a rally next month protesting a potential city Walmart.
“Small businesses, the engine that drives New York’s economy, continue to face tough times as the economy slowly recovers, and the specter of Walmart moving into New York City could drive hundreds out of business,” said spokesman Eric Koch in a written statement.
But not every mom-and-pop shop-keeper thinks the Behemoth of Bentonville will take over their niche market.
“I’m always a bit concerned when a new business opens, but we have an old-fashioned meat market that’s been here for a 100 years,” said Glen Izzo, owner of Brenman’s Prime Meat Market on Gerritsen Avenue. “Walmart isn’t a community store, but we’re very involved in community events.”