In the Wall Street Journal's article about Wal-Mart's interest in opening dozens of "smaller" stores in urban areas, there's a sign that Mayor Bloomberg would be happy to welcome the retail behemoth: Mayoral spokesman Andrew Brent said, "We shouldn't tell businesses that want to invest and create jobs in New York City that they can't. New Yorkers are already voting with their feet when they drive outside the City to shop at stores that aren't in the five boroughs."

Wal-Mart's supercenters are about 180,000 square feet on average, but growth from those stores has stalled in recent years. And NYC has always been attractive to the chain, which has tried to win over city residents with ads in 2005, but unions have been vocal in their opposition. Nowadays, the WSJ reports:

Wal-Mart has made a push to show it is a socially responsible giant; it now, for instance, offers better health benefits than most of its retail rivals, and is requiring suppliers to limit their carbon emissions. Yet Wal-Mart has struggled at cracking the big cities amid stiff opposition from organized labor—even as its archrival, Target Corp., and other big-box chains such as Best Buy Co. make a steady march into urban areas with similar products, stores and nonunion workers.

Wal-Mart now discloses wages to convince critics that its pay is equal or better than competitors'; in New York hourly wages average $12.20, nearly $5 more than the state's minimum wage and $2 above the New York City retail median, which was $10.04 in 2009 according to the Fiscal Policy Institute, a nonprofit group financed by unions.

Still, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn told the paper, "Wal-Mart can say they are a different company, but we are not going to roll the dice in New York City. Target in no way has the history of employment problems that Wal-Mart has. You can't teach an old dog new tricks."