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HAMDEN, Conn. -- Slightly more than half of New York City residents would like a Wal-Mart in their neighborhood, according to a new poll of 1,072 registered voters conducted by Quinnipiac University here. The survey found that 51 percent of New Yorkers in favor, 37 percent against, and 11 percent undecided.
As yet, Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart has no locations in the Big Apple, although Wal-Mart spokesman Phil Serghini told the New York Sun that the retailer was searching "with intensity" in all five boroughs for possible sites.
New Yorkers surveyed did say they have concerns about Wal-Mart's wages and benefits, in addition to the adverse effect of big-box stores on the city's small business community. But still a majority, even those identifying themselves as living in union households, said they would shop at a Wal-Mart if one opened nearby.
"New Yorkers sympathize with the plight of their fellow workers and their local mom-and-pop stores, but a bargain is a bargain," said Quinnipiac Poll director Douglas Schwartz in a statement.
When broken down by borough, just 39 percent of Manhattanites said they wanted a Wal-Mart in their city; but 64 percent of Bronx residents, 58 percent of Staten Islanders, and 52 percent of Brooklyn and Queens dwellers were in favor of it. Steven Malanga, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, told the newspaper that the results reflected the socioeconomic differences among the boroughs, with many more affluent Manhattan residents less interested in a discount retailer.
Before a 1 million-square-foot shopping mall in the Bronx was given final approval by the New York City Council last week, the mall's developer, the Related Cos., agreed that a Wal-Mart would not be included in the mall. The council also blocked a proposal last year to build a Wal-Mart in the Rego Park section of Queens, and has passed legislation requiring big grocery stores to pay some medical-insurance premiums for their workers, which Wal-Mart doesn't currently do. Observers note that the council is highly influenced by unions such as the United Food and Commercial Workers, which don't want Wal-Mart in the city.