Art Carden summarizes all sorts of recent research on Wal-Mart here. Less formal research notes that customers line up to shop at Wal-Mart and workers line up to work there. But simple markets tests are beyond many people. This is why today's LA Times reports that "Thousands rally against Wal-Mart in Chinatown ... Several union and civil rights activists speak at the event opposing a new Wal-Mart store in Chinatown, and Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello plays 'This Land Is Your Land.'"
As with all such protests, they come from two quarters. Some are completely incoherent; others have everything to fear from competition and real people voting with their real dollars.
It is sad that these are the two groups are the natural constituencies of City Hall and much of the local news media.
The young lady in the photo holds up a banner which says "Wal-Mart: Keep your hands off Chinatown." She should know that LA's real Chinatown is now about ten miles east in the San Gabriel Valley and has been for some years. That's where LA's great Chinese restaurants are and that is where most of the region's many Chinese and/or Chinese-American shoppers go. Many of the rest of us go there when we want a really good Chinese dining experience.
The old downtown LA Chinatown is pathetic and people should be celebrating the fact that the neighborhood attracts the interest of any investors.