Op-Ed: I Will Fight To Bring Wal-Mart To New York To Help The Poor


david-storobinBy David Storobin

Former New York State Senator and a candidate for City Council

“Why didn’t you ever ask me to buy you anything growing up,” my mom wondered a few of years ago.

“What was there to ask for?” I replied. “You couldn’t afford anything.”

That was the reality of being raised by a divorced mother who gave up her job as a medical school professor in the Soviet Union to become a $5 an hour cleaning woman in the United States, a reality familiar to immigrants of both current and past generations. Like other boys, I wanted a water gun, a bicycle, a Knicks or a Rangers jersey, but those, of course, were pipe dreams. All through middle school, high school and college, poverty was the order of the day.

The month when I got accepted to law school, my mom got her first job as a social worker for a mere $21,700 a year. Life and future, given these two events, suddenly seemed different.

It felt like we finally were leaving the degradation of poverty behind. That month, for the first time since coming to America, I bought clothes in a regular store instead of at a flea market. Between middle school and college, the most expensive piece of clothing I owned was a $12 winter coat. A $2 pair of used jeans I bought had a large hole around the knee, which in embarrassment I tried to convince my high school classmates was outdated fashion from the long-gone 1980s.

I could’ve had new, but inexpensive clothes. “Luckily”, there were politicians who sought to protect me from this, and they keep protecting all other poor New Yorkers to this day. There are stores like Wal-Mart where poor people can afford to shop. These clothes and other goods may not be fancy, but they are new and respectable. We can’t buy them in New York City. After all, the cheap prices offered by Wal-Mart are just not fair to… its competition like Marshall’s and Sears. This, of course, is no different than me as an attorney lobbying to prevent other law firms from operating in Manhattan and Brooklyn where my offices are located. Think about how much more I could’ve charged my clients if I had less competition!

The argument against Wal-Mart is that it destroys business around it. Anecdotal evidence of an occasional business taking a hit is presented to back this belief. But what are the real facts? The law of supply and demand dictates that when demand increases, so does the price. The evidence is clear: when a Wal-Mart opens, the price of commercial real estate around it skyrockets. The only reason for it is the increased demand from other businesses who seek to be near a superstore that functions as a center that attracts customers to the area.

Obviously not everyone benefits, but this is true for everything. Not everyone benefited from, say, The Industrial Revolution. Dale Cargenie’s dad was among the farmers who were bankrupted by industrialization. Does that mean that The Industrial Revolution should’ve been blocked by do-gooder politicians? Of course not! Similarly, while some of Wal-Mart’s competition – mostly other large corporations – may lose out, the majority of businessmen benefit.

But my main concern isn’t with those completing with or profiting from Wal-Mart. No, I didn’t sell out to Wal-Mart. Neither Wal-Mart, nor any other large corporation, nor any lobbyist group has ever given me a cent, not even when I was a Senator. Almost all my donors and volunteers are people who never participated in politics before. My concern lies with the poor and the middle class. Activists who don’t understand economics say that allowing Wal-Mart to operate harms the workers because of the wages the company pays. But if someone has a better job available to them, they will take it. For those who don’t have another option, why are we preventing them from getting a stepping stone, the same stepping stone my mom got when she got a $21,700 job, which eventually resulted in her achieving a middle class status?

The more jobs are available, the more employers have to compete for workers, the higher the wages will rise. Nothing depresses wages like unemployment. Nothing encourages a company owner to pay the minimum like getting 200 job applications for every job opening, which is what I got every time I hired someone since the recession began five years ago.

To win votes, politicians pretend they can solve every problem by passing a law. It allows them to take credit where no credit is due. But the way to increase wages is to increase employment, not by government dictates.

Just as importantly, we need to make purchasing more affordable for the poor. It is a concern most politicians just can’t comprehend. They didn’t grow up in poverty, they didn’t have to choose between Wal-Mart and the flea market.

When the election results were announced at my victory party, a crowd of 1,000 people – almost none of whom have ever before attended a political event – chanted, “We Won! We Won!” The real politicians were confused. They simply couldn’t understand former doctors and engineers who became housekeepers and cabbies, and then climbed into the middle class, while pushing their children further up the social scale. These people were there for me when every political insider described my campaign as hopeless because these people knew that here was one candidate who understood where they came from.

In most cases, I cannot pay them back for helping me, nor can I pay back the strangers who showed up with food at our door our first day in New York. I can’t pay them back, but I can pay them forward by helping another 12-year-old kid who wants to wear clothes that no stranger has worn before. That kid and his parents need Wal-Mart. For that kid, I will fight.

And we will win again.

{Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. this guys a ignoramus because Wal – Mart does kill small business’s and why should frum people support goyim, go to 13th avenue and the $ you spend there will go to Jewish things.

  2. this guys a ignoramus because Wal – Mart does kill small business’s and why should frum people support goyim, go to 13th avenue and the $ you spend there will go to Jewish things.

  3. Out here in ther Midwest we have Walmarts, Meijer stores, Super Targets, etc., which are all very helpful to the consumer’s bottom line. Other merchants didn’t vanish if they found the right niches, as many did. Pay no attention to union / liberal propaganda.

  4. I wish they would bring Walmart to Brooklyn! It would help us save so much money on everyday supplies. It would create a lot of job openings for our community. A walmart opening in a industrial zone would pose no threat to a small store on 13th Avenue or Avenue M! The reason small business’ are forced to close, is because of the GREEDY landlords RIPPING off their fellow Yidden! Let’s stop beating around the bush! Been there done that!

  5. I agree that the rents are too ****** high, as that candidate with the white gloves keeps saying. There are so many vacant stores on Avenue M and Avenue J, and too many banks.

  6. I won’t vote for this guy because of that!! Walmart is the conglomeratization of Anerica and the downfall of small business oweners like myself everywhere.

  7. If you want to buy from walmart, buy online, dont bring that monstruosity to NYC. storobin you are a lawyer not an economist. Walmart is able to sale chapper than any other store due to its size and supply chain. No one will be able to compete. what niche will be available for the small stores? when walmart sales absolutely everything? walmart pays minimun wages salaries. who can survive in NYC with such salaries?

  8. Why should there be a problem 13ave wouldn’t get hurt why do they allow target or Costco they are big time places and you cant say costco has a club,anyone can be on on it. how about toys r us vs 13 ave store vs kings plaza or clothing store 13 ave. it’s all unions, unions hate religious Jews don’t let the govt give our struggling family’s school vouchers and we elect union loving thug politicians to office and barley do anything for us.the person who spoke about minimum wage there is welfare for those people and Medicaid. Daivd Strobin is one who isn’t a career politician and actually cares about the community problems as we saw when he was a State Senator. Vote for him today

  9. Mr. Faculty Series,
    those monstrosities are already here! Toys R Us may have put a few stores out of business, but niche stores, ones that cater to personal touch and educational toys remain open, and extremely competitive. Think Totally Toys, Toys 4 U, Teachers Choice, etc. Walmart is no different than K-Mart. Just better! if K-mart, which has lower prices than most stores, hasnt doen damage, then neither will walmart, except to maybe kmart. nebach, i feel for kmart! the fact they pay minimum wage is neither relevant or even a coherent argument. Many industries pay minimum wage. They aren’t there to hire people with degress in molecular biology! they are there for people who need a first job, high school or college students, and maybe an unemployed person looking for a job in their proper field due to the high unemployment of your dear Socialist Leader, Obama, has brought to this country from Europe.

  10. It is not just that Walmart pays less.

    I see a bigger problem. If people start buying all their junk at Walmart, there wont be a need for 99 cent stores on Sheepshead Bay Rd, or Nostrand Ave.

    If people start buying all their milk at Walmart, there wont be a need for grocery stores and fruit markets.

    Do we want more closed storefronts on Ave U?

    Do we want to have to get in the car and drive halfway to Queens to buy a loaf of bread?

    Do we want less local, family owned businesses in Brookly