As big box stores and chain retailers consume more and more undeveloped land, polluted runoff from their parking lots is placing an ever greater burden on the nation’s rivers, lakes, and coastal waters. Storm water control measures and filtration systems produce only modest improvement, according to experts. A better solution is to channel commerce back into compact downtowns and neighborhood business districts, which are far less polluting. Continue reading
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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.
"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.
By forming alliances, independent businesses can regain their central role in our economy. Continue reading
At the urging of a broad group of residents and local business owners, the Tampa City Council voted unanimously in June to reject a proposal to level a neighborhood shopping center to make way for a Walgreen pharmacy and a bank. The shopping center is currently home to nine locally owned businesses, including three restaurants, a fitness center, beauty parlor, and laundry.
A developer sought to tear down the center, annex parts of two residential properties, and construct a large, box-like Walgreen’s and a bank.
Residents of Stoughton, Wisconsin, have come together under the banner "Uff-da Wal-Mart" to fight the company’s plans to turn a nearby cornfield into a massive supercenter. Uff-da is a Norwegian expression of disdain.
In mid-July, Uff-da Wal-Mart scored a significant victory when the City Council adopted a 90-day moratorium on big box retail development. The ordinance temporarily bans development of stores larger than 50,000 square feet.
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.