Under a measure that passed the House last Thursday, you may soon be able to invest in a portfolio of your favorite independent businesses. The bill, which won bipartisan support and cleared the House on a 407-17 vote, would overturn long-standing Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rules that make it nearly impossible for small businesses to raise capital (or borrow money) from their customers and communities. Continue reading
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Our Harper’s Index-style look at Walmart’s impact on the environment and local economies. Continue reading
The world’s biggest retailer has gotten lots of great press since it launched its sustainability campaign six years ago, but in many key areas it hasn’t actually gotten greener. It’s pumping out more CO2, paving over more land, and selling more flimsy products than ever before. In this Grist special series, ILSR’s Stacy Mitchell takes a hard look at Walmart’s real environmental impact. Continue reading
Handing out multimillion-dollar subsidies to large chains has become commonplace in much of the country. But when governments use public money to woo national chains, economic growth and job creation are negligible, and independent retailers suffer, Stacy Mitchell argues in this commentary for Business Week.
The results of a new study suggest that the key to reversing the long-term trend of stagnating incomes in the U.S. lies in nurturing small, locally owned businesses and limiting further expansion and market consolidation by large corporations. Continue reading
I winced yesterday when James Gavin, chair of the Partnership for a Healthier America, said he’d like to see Walmart double its U.S. store count. He was speaking at Michelle Obama’s event announcing that several retailers will open stores in “food deserts.” It was a sort of half-jokey remark, but, still, in a conversation about food in America, the suggestion that Walmart should have an even bigger role in our food system is pretty disturbing. This is a company that already captures 25 percent of grocery sales nationally and more than 50 percent in some metro areas. Continue reading
In what may well be the tipping point in a decade-long fight to level the playing field for local brick-and-mortar businesses, California this week enacted a law requiring Amazon and other large online retailers to collect state sales tax. Continue reading
After winning a high-stakes standoff against Amazon last year, publishers are now setting the prices that retailers can charge for their e-books.
At first blush, one might assume that such price-fixing would result in higher prices. But the evidence from more than a dozen European countries, where laws have long prohibited selling both print and electronic books below a set price, clearly shows that publisher-mandated pricing saves consumers money. It also fosters a more lively and competitive book industry, with far more books published and many more independent bookstores open than in countries where big retailers control pricing. Continue reading
Despite the ample publicity Wal-Mart has engineered for its "buy local" efforts, the company in fact has zero interest in cultivating local suppliers beyond stocking a few token local veggies suitable for a nice photo-op. Continue reading
Raising the pay of Wal-Mart’s U.S. workers to a minimum of $12 an hour would lift many out of poverty and cost the average consumer, at most, $12.49 a year, according to a new study published by the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education. Continue reading