Last month, Ed Trudeau, co-owner of the Vista Gas Station in Burlington, Wisconsin, drove an 8,500 gallon tanker truck to a competing Citgo Station for a fill-up. Although he managed to pump only 343 gallons before employees cut the flow, Trudeau made his point. The Citgo had been selling gas below cost, a violation of Wisconsin state law.
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In late April, the American Booksellers Association (ABA) settled its antitrust case against Barnes & Noble and Borders Books for $4.7 million. The lawsuit charged the two chains with using their market power to bully publishers and wholesalers into providing special discounts and favorable terms that were not made available to independent bookstores.
In February, the Domini Social Equity Fund removed Wal-Mart from its portfolio. The decision to dump the Fund’s 1.2 million shares of Wal-Mart stock was prompted primarily by concerns about the company’s labor and human rights policies abroad.
Domini had initially sought to alter Wal-Mart’s practices through shareholder activism.
In late November, the Kansas City Council voted to approve new zoning rules to protect the Brookside business district from large-scale, suburban-style chain store development.
The ordinance restricts retail uses to 10,000 square feet, except for grocery stores, which may be as large as 25,000 square feet, prohibits drive-through restaurants, limits building heights, caps the number of parking spaces allowed, and sets design standards for the neighborhood.
In December, the city of Coronado, Cal. adopted an ordinance restricting the proliferation of formula retail businesses. The ordinance notes that the unregulated addition of such businesses would frustrate the city’s goal of maintaining a unique and diverse retail base, and limit opportunities for small, local retailers.
Formula retail businesses are defined as those "required by contractual or other arrangement to maintain any of the following: standardized. . .
Two state legislators are preparing a bill to modify Wisconsin’s tax increment financing (TIF) law that will likely limit the use of TIF for retail development projects.
"I am concerned about the inappropriate use of TIF districts to subsidize two kinds of development. The first is development that would have occurred anyway. The other is big box retail development," says Rep. Peter Bock (D-Milwaukee).
Residents of a Madison neighborhood were shocked to learn in early December that a 20-year-old local grocery store would be closing its doors. Ken Kopp, owner of Ken Kopp’s Fine Foods on Monroe Street, one of the last independent grocery stores in the city, announced he was retiring. Unable to find a buyer for the grocery business, Kopp planned to sell the property to a developer who intended to build a 14,000 square foot drive-through Walgreens.
In the last issue of this Bulletin, we reported on a massive citizen effort in New Rochelle, New York to block a 300,000 square foot Ikea furniture superstore. In late January, Ikea and the city jointly announced that they would drop the project.
Although the press release issued by Mayor Tim Idoni, who strongly favored the chain, focused on certain unresolvable traffic issues, opponents contend that the organized and sustained citizen opposition ultimately led to the project’s demise.
Located on Lake Michigan, the small town of Petoskey in northern Michigan draws thousands of visitors every year. They come for the spectacular scenery and for an opportunity to experience what many communities have long since lost: a vibrant downtown.
Renowned for its distinctive character and century-old buildings, downtown Petoskey is more than a quaint destination for tourists. Its a place that serves the everyday needs of residents.
Residents of Boulder, Col. no longer have to choose between supporting a locally owned retailer and shopping elsewhere for a better deal. For $15—less than the price of membership at one warehouse buying club—they can purchase a Community Benefit Card from the Boulder Independent Business Alliance (BIBA). The card provides discounts and other benefits at more than 60 local businesses, with most knocking 10 percent off every product and service they offer.