Wal-Mart opening its first store in downtown LA

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is opening its first store in downtown Los Angeles – a 33,000-square-foot small-format grocery store in Chinatown, the LAist reported.

The store, located on the ground floor of a senior housing complex, will be about one-fifth the size of a traditional Wal-Mart, Reuters reported.

Wal-Mart's Senior Director of Community Affairs Steven V. Restivo told the LAist that the new store is "an opportunity to revive the vacant property" in Chinatown, "is in line with [Wal-Mart's] sustainability goals and will help deliver an added economic boost to the area."

But some Los Angelenos are concerned that Wal-Mart will destroy Chinatown's small, family-owned businesses and offer jobs that pay less than a living wage, Reuters reported. "There's no way that they can compete with a giant like Wal-Mart," Roxana Tynan, executive director of LAANE, which advocates for better wages and benefits for workers, said, according to Reuters. "The Chinatown store will continue Wal-Mart's track record of perpetuating poverty jobs in low-income communities in Los Angeles.”

The local grocery workers union is currently fighting Wal-Mart’s efforts to open a big-box store in nearby Burbank, Calif., LA Weekly reported. Wal-Mart’s employees are not unionized.

Tynan’s organization alleges that Wal-Mart is opening a smaller store than usual to get around a city superstore ordinance that enables city officials to weigh numerous factors, such as job quality and business loss, in deciding whether to allow big box developments to proceed, LA Weekly reported.

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