In an effort to prevent further consolidation of small storefronts into large chain outlets along the Third Street Promenade, the city of Santa Monica has adopted an ordinance that limits stores to no more than 50 linear feet of street frontage. The City Council has also directed city staff to compile data on the number of formula businesses in the district and draft options for limiting their proliferation.
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"Secede from Starbucks Nation" is the tagline of a new advertising campaign by the small town of Excelsior, Minnesota. The tongue-and-cheek ads take jabs at chain stores and promote Excelsior as a place where one-of-a-kind, locally owned businesses are embraced.
"When . . . a large development wants to be in your town, you see the tax values surrounding that. . . I think the tendency is to think this is really going to give us a solid foundation," George Fowler, mayor of Pineville, North Carolina, told the Charlotte Observer. "But you don’t realize at that particular point the impact it’s going to have on the services you have to provide."
Big retailers are increasingly coming under fire from small and mid-sized manufacturers. Last month, more than 1,000 employees and owners of small manufacturing firms attended a rally in Connecticut to denounce Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Target, and other chains for forcing large manufacturers to move their factories to China. Continue reading
Since the 1980s, Wal-Mart has received at least $150 million in local, state, and federal subsidies to build 47 distribution centers in 32 states, according to a study by The Palm Beach Post.
Onlythose subsidies that have been quantified in published reports were counted. "That number likely grows by tens of millions when unquantified breaks, such as government bond financing for construction, and ongoing breaks, such as those given to businesses in enterprise zones, are included," the newspaper notes.
Five radio stations in St. Louis are refusing Wal-Mart’s demand that they pull ads critical of the company’s labor practices. The ads, sponsored by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 655, discuss working conditions, wages, and lack of health care at Wal-Mart stores. Wal-Mart claims the ads are false and misleading, but the UFCW stands behind their accuracy. Continue reading
By forming alliances, independent businesses can regain their central role in our economy. Continue reading
A citizens group in Aurora, New York, has fought off Wal-Mart twice, first in 1996 and again in 2000. Now, with rumors circulating that the company may return for a third attempt, Aurora Citizens for Smart Growth is pushing for a permanent law banning stores over 55,000 square feet. That’s about one-third the size of the stores Wal-Mart previously proposed.
Bruce Davidson of the citizens group says the size cap is needed to maintain the character of the community and its small, locally owned businesses.
In July, the Scottsdale, Arizona, City Council voted 4-3 to approve one of the largest subsidies ever given to a big box retail development. Those voting in the minority described the subsidy, which could amount to as much as $183 million over 40 years, as "obscene" and "insane."
The 600,000-square-foot development includes a Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, and Lowe’s Home Improvement store. The project is slated for a 42-acre site occupied by a derelict mall in south Scottsdale.
In April, the Montana legislature narrowly defeated a bill to levy a tax on the revenue of big box retailers. Supported by most Democrats and a handful of Republicans, the legislation would have imposed a 1 percent tax on the revenue of retailers with more than $20 million in annual sales, a 1.5 percent tax on those with more than $30 million in sales, and a 2 percent tax on those with over $40 million. Continue reading