The May 23 Business story "Putting on the Brakes: Local Grocery Workers Union Leads the Fight to Block Wal-Mart's Efforts to Infiltrate Inner Suburbs, District" did not mention that these proposals are about more than an attempt to keep out one company. They are an effort to keep an entire sector of retailing out of the District and surrounding jurisdictions. This is about legislating winners and losers in the retail economy, and ultimately it will hurt consumers.
Large-format stores should be as accessible to residents of urban neighborhoods as they are to those in the far-out suburbs. In fact, inner-city residents need the good value these stores offer and the jobs they provide.
This legislation targets the No. 1 private employer in Virginia and one of the top 10 employers in Maryland. Legislators should be pursuing policies that provide incentives to companies that bring more jobs to residents, rather than proposals that discourage them.
Retail Industry Leaders Association
D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams and several members of the D.C. Council traveled to Las Vegas recently in the hope of luring national chain retailers to the District ["D.C. Bill Clouds Sales Pitch to Big-Box Stores," Business, May 25]. In effect, taxpayers are financing a junket so that politicians can cut deals to entice big corporations to push out local businesses and displace residents.
I live in Washington. If I wanted to be surrounded by "big boxes," I'd move to Tysons Corner or Rockville. Five or 10 years ago, when property values in the city were low and vacant storefronts dominated many retail areas, I could understand the push for more chain stores. But things have changed 180 degrees. Given the D.C. real estate boom, we don't need to beg the big boxes to come to our city anymore.
D.C. officials should think more about building neighborhoods accessible on foot, helping small business and preserving affordable housing, and less about reshaping the District in the image of the suburbs.