Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Will He Ever Stop, I don't Know

I know my loyal trio of readers and those who stumble upon this blog looking for Shaolin kung-fu websites have not had enough of the discussion surrounding the recently passed big box wage ordinance. An interesting article in the August 21st edition of that lefty rag, Crain’s Chicago Business ( http://chicagobusiness.com/cgi-bin/mag/article.pl?article_id=26335&bt=Target&arc=n&searchType=all) points out that Target especially, and perhaps even Wal-Mart, may well reconsider their collective decision to pull out of the Chicago market after the passage of the ordinance. The article points out three facts that big box retailers will have to consider:

Big box stores have saturated the suburban market and have few growth opportunities there.
City dwellers will generally travel to stores between 2.5-5 miles away from their home.
Given #2, Target is potentially missing millions of dollars in sales in neighborhoods like Lincoln Park, Hyde Park and the far Southwest Side (Beverly and Morgan Park).

I am loathe to say I told you so, but on the face of it, these facts lay out a pretty convincing case for why I supported the big box living wage ordinance. The outcomes, despite what opponents and proponents claimed, are far from pre-determined. It is not 100% certain that if the City Council and the Mayor stick up to the threats of Target and Wal-Mart what the retailers will do and what the effects of their actions may be. Potentially, they could avoid the city of Chicago. Just as likely is that they would crunch numbers such as those presented in Crain’s and see that it makes sense for them to take on the extra cost of doing business in Chicago, even with slightly reduced profits. Again, it is worth “running the experiment,” especially if it means higher wages for low wage workers.

The Our Town column in the August 4th Chicago Reader (can’t find it online, sorry) details the political machinations surrounding the big box vote. What is most interesting is that it relieves me of the spectre of “paternalistic white liberalism.” Apparently, Mayor Daley has a suitcase full of black pastors he trots out to pressure the council into voting his way. I would be fascinated to see the churches these pastors lead and see how many of their parishioners actually live in the surround neighborhoods.

Hopefully, that’ll be it on the Big Box for a while.


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