Giant and UFCW Want To Zone Wal-Mart Out

Jun 15, 2004
George Anderson

By George Anderson

Unlikely allies, Giant Food and the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) have joined forces to push for an ordinance to ban Wal-Mart from building its Supercenters
in Montgomery County, MD, a suburb of Washington D.C. 

The Washington Post reports the grocery chain (a division of Ahold) and the union are advocating the passage of new zoning restrictions on stores that are larger than
120,000 square feet with at least 10 percent devoted to groceries.

“A grocery store cannot compete against a supercenter,” said Jason Whitmer, analyst at FTN Midwest Research Securities. “The logic is to fight Wal-Mart before they come rather
than when they come.”  

The matter is a long way from settled, however, as county officials have seen conflicting studies on the impact of big box stores. Montgomery County president, Steven Silverman
said, “I don’t think we’ve been provided with enough information to draw a circle around something called a combination retail store and have it pass legal muster.”

The proposed changes, introduced by County Executive Douglas Duncan, would not affect other big box operators such as warehouse clubs or home improvement stores.

Safeway is not actively lobbying for the passage of the ordinance, but company spokesperson, Greg TenEyck, said, “We are supportive of the concept.”  

Moderator’s Comment: What are your thoughts on the effort by Giant Foods and the United Food and Commercial Workers
(UFCW) to zone Wal-Mart Supercenters out of Montgomery County?

Our reaction was pretty much the same as Mia Masten, Wal-Mart’s community affairs manager for the eastern region.

“We think it’s anti-competitive and anti-consumer,” she told the Washington Post, “It not only affects us but other competitors who want to come
into Montgomery County and offer consumers one-stop shopping, which is what consumers say they want.”

BTW — Wal-Mart says it has no current plans to build a Supercenter in Montgomery County.
George Anderson – Moderator

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