Friday, September 08, 2006

Big Box Store Size Restrictions?

Will the Village of Saranac Lake, like the Town of N. Elba, ever institute big box store size restrictions? And, if they do, will this happen.
Citizens for Economic Opportunity, a group started by the conservative activist Dallas Erickson of Stevensville, collected $41,752.41 in its effort to defeat the resolution that would limit big-box stores to 60,000 square feet, documents show. Wal-Mart, which is seeking to build a supercenter in Hamilton, gave $41,000 of that amount in a check written in late May, just as the petition drive was getting under way.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Who's Incorrect - Or Do You Believe Your Own Eyes?

Depending on who you speak with, the village of Ticonderoga is either booming or dying. Which is it?

From a letter to the editor in todays ADE:
But as I said, a town with nothing but bars would be pretty pathetic. As it happened, I drove through such a town yesterday. My spouse and I actually kept count as we drove through the town’s main street. Sixteen boarded-up stores in a stretch about as long as our downtown Main Street. Four bars. One tattoo parlor. One tanning salon. OK, there was an Aubuchon, and it seemed to be open. And a Rite-Aid on the edge of town, at least for now. And one of the bars served food, so make it three bars and a restaurant. No apparent tourist stores, even though the town has a major tourist attraction. To be fair, we didn’t check the side streets. Maybe they are full of bustling businesses.

The town is, of course, Ticonderoga. A town with a Wal-Mart! I suggest you folks who are certain that Saranac Lake is dying pay a goodwill call on Ticonderoga and report back on what we’re missing. Then report back in a letter or guest column in the Enterprise. Take some video and put it on Channel 2 to show us what a real “live” village is like. Maybe the rest of us will then come to our senses about what we’re missing.

From the Ticonderoga Chamber of Commerce website:
Ticonderoga has been experiencing a resurgence of business growth with expansions of existing companies and new business openings. International Paper Company, Interlakes Health Facility, TOP’s Market, have all completed multi-million dollar expansion and Fort Ticonderoga’s growth is a works in progress. Hugely successful Wal-Mart continues to draw volumes of customers and attract new chain store/big-box interest in Ticonderoga. Approximately 30 additional retail/service businesses have opened in the last3 years; 1/3 of which are chain stores.

As it happens, I asked the Ticonderoga Chamber of Commerce for the list of the 30 stores that opened in the last 3 years. I'm still waiting for an answer.

Big Box Construction is a useful site to see what construction projects are being proposed for a specific area. Using advanced search you can type in a zip code and a radius in miles to see what contracts are being let. For example, if you type in 12983 and a radius of 50 miles you get THIS. You can see the Malone Wal-Mart and the Potsdam Wal-Mart projects. You can even see maps and aerial photos of the building site. I assume this means the Ticonderoga Wal-Mart is going to be remodeled. was recently showing bids for a Wal-Mart in Damariscotta, Maine, which turned out to be inaccurate and have been removed.
A solicitation for construction bids on a Wal-Mart supercenter in Damariscotta posted online Aug. 7 has raised some eyebrows, but is totally inaccurate, according to a spokesman for Wal-Mart.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Labor Day Post

Whether you are pro- or anti- Union, read this article in the New York Times Magazine about Andy Stern, the S.E.I.U. and union in-fighting.
The implications of Stern's crusade stretch well beyond the narrow world of organized labor and into the heart of the nation's politics. The stale and paralyzed political dialogue in Washington right now is a direct result of the deterioration of industrial America, followed by the rise of the Wal-Mart economy.
Even if big labor eventually does come to be made up of bigger unions, Stern sees a larger challenge: can you build a multinational labor movement to counter the leverage of multinational giants whose tentacles reach across oceans and continents? The emblem of this new kind of behemoth, of course, is Wal-Mart, the nation's largest employer. Wal-Mart has, in a sense, turned the American retail model inside out. It used to be that a manufacturer made, say, a clock radio, determined its price and the wages of the employees who made it and then sold the radio to a retail outlet at a profit. Wal-Mart's power is such that the process now works in reverse: in practice, Wal-Mart sets the price for that clock radio, and the manufacturer, very likely located overseas, figures out how low wages will have to be in order to make it profitable to produce it. In this way, Wal-Mart not only resists unions in its stores with unwavering ferocity but also drives down the wages of its manufacturers -- all in the service of bringing consumers the lowest possible price.

''What was good for G.M. ended up being good for the country,'' Stern says. ''What's good for Wal-Mart ends up being good for five families'' -- the heirs to the Walton fortune. Stern's reform plan for the A.F.L.-C.I.O. includes a $25 million fund to organize Wal-Mart's workers. But as a retail outlet, Wal-Mart doesn't really fall within the S.E.I.U.'s purview. What Stern says he is deeply worried about is what he sees as the next generation of Wal-Marts, which are on his turf: French, British and Scandinavian companies whose entry into the American market threatens to drive down wages in service industries, which are often less visible than retail. ''While we were invading Iraq, the Europeans invaded us,'' Stern says. Most of these companies have no objection to unionizing in Europe, where organized labor is the norm. But when they come to the United States, they immediately follow the Wal-Mart model, undercutting their competitors by shutting out unions and squeezing paychecks.