With much fanfare and, it seemed, the expectation of much praise, Wal-Mart unveiled plans in April for an "urban" style supercenter in downtown Dallas. The 220,000-square-foot supercenter would be situated on Mockingbird Lane in a residential neighborhood near Love Field. Unlike the standard suburban Wal-Mart, this one would feature a Spanish-style façade, landscaped gardens, underground parking, and a door that opened onto the sidewalk.
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A profile of the first Independent Business Alliance.
Plotting the overthrow of the franchised world, bookstore owner David Bolduc and political organizer Jeff Milchen strategize on how to preserve hometown businesses in Boulder, Colorado, and around the country. Continue reading
To counter competition from big box retailers, independent lighting stores are banding together in a cooperative called Lighting One. The coop enables members to reduce costs through joint purchasing and gain access to services and expertise that otherwise would be unaffordable.
"Lighting One puts us on a level playing field with the big boxes," says Marilyn Shulman, second generation owner of Bayshore Lighting, a 60-year-old lighting store in Long Island, New York.
Just a few years ago, industry observers were predicting the demise of independent funeral homes. Four giant companies were buying up thousands of independent mortuaries and rapidly consolidating the industry. By processing bodies at large regional embalming plants, buying in bulk, and sharing employees across multiple homes, the chains were expected to gain a significant financial edge over their independent competitors.
The now defunct Intimate Bookshop of North Carolina has filed suit against Barnes & Noble and Borders Books alleging that the chains used their market power to pressure publishers for special discounts and terms unavailable to other retailers.
According to documents filed in the case by Intimate’s attorney, Carl Person, the chains received an effective discount of 60 percent off the cover price, compared to only about 40-46 percent given to independent bookstores.
A coalition of neighborhood, small business, and environmental groups has gathered more than 4,000 petition signatures against a proposed Wal-Mart store in Vancouver, Canada. Continue reading
Rumors of a citizens lawsuit are beginning to circulate in New Orleans less than a month after the city council approved a 200,000 square foot suburban-style Wal-Mart supercenter. The 17-acre development will be situated along Tchoupitoulas Street in the Lower Garden District, a historic neighborhood wedged between a bend in the Mississippi River and downtown.
In mid-May, the city council of Arcata, California voted 4-to-1 to enact a citywide cap on the number formula restaurants. The measure must pass a second reading on June 5. It will become law 30 days later.
The ordinance defines a formula restaurant as one that shares the same design, menu, trademark, and other characteristics with twelve or more other establishments. The ordinance bars a formula restaurant from locating within the city unless it is replacing an existing formula restaurant at the same location.
Six weeks after an advisory referendum won broad support from residents, the Ocean Beach, California, planning board voted 8-to-4 in early May to recommend that the city council adopt an ordinance banning all formula restaurants and retail businesses.
Ocean Beach is a neighborhood of San Diego with a population of about 15,000. Each of the city’s neighborhoods has its own master plan and elected planning board.
San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown vetoed an ordinance to require greater scrutiny of big box development. The measure passed the Board of Supervisors on a 7-to-4 vote in March. Eight votes are needed to override a mayoral veto.
The citywide ordinance would have required retail development projects larger than 50,000 square feet to undergo an impact review and obtain a conditional use permit before proceeding.