Citizens and community organizations in New Zealand are beginning to take action to curb the spread of chain stores and big box retailers. "The big box phenomena has had a huge impact," says Warren Snow of Envision New Zealand, a community development company. "In the same way that Wal-Mart has decimated the main streets of America, New Zealand towns and suburbs are also buckling under the might of big box retailers."
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Citizens in Eureka, California, recently attended the third in a series of public meetings aimed at drafting an ordinance that would require big box development proposals to pass a comprehensive economic impact review before being allowed to build.
"We’re trying to create a livable, walkable city," said City Councilor Chris Kerrigan, who introduced the ordinance in April. "We’ve spent millions and more than a decade trying to turn our downtown around.
Two California cities have adopted ordinances that prohibit "supercenters"—massive 200,000-square-foot stores operated by Wal-Mart, Target, and Kmart that combine general merchandise with a full supermarket and numerous specialty services like florists and gas stations.
In October, the Inglewood City Council voted 4-1 to bar stores over 155,000 square feet that sell more than 20,000 nontaxable items, such as food and pharmacy products. Inglewood has a population of 113,000 and is located in Los Angeles County.
In October, the Maine Department of Human Services released its third annual survey of prescription prices for fifteen common drugs at 106 independent and chain pharmacies statewide. The ten lowest priced pharmacies (based on the cost of all fifteen drugs combined) were all locally owned drugstores. National chains, including Rite Aid, CVS, and Brooks, had among the highest overall costs. Continue reading
A broad coalition has coalesced in Puerto Rico to block an attempt by Wal-Mart to buy Supermercados Amigo, the island’s largest supermarket chain. The deal would give the retailer, which already has $1.16 billion in sales at 19 Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club stores, a 40 percent share of Puerto Rico’s grocery sales.
The number of businesses belonging to purchasing cooperatives has doubled in the last ten years, to about 50,000, according to Paul Hazen of the National Cooperative Business Association. In the hardware and grocery sectors, long-established co-ops like Ace Hardware, have provided an essential line of defense against large chains and made the difference between survival and failure for countless independent merchants. The co-op model is now spreading to other retail sectors.
EASTON, MARYLAND — Home Depot suffered a resounding defeat at the ballot box in Talbot County, Maryland, on Tuesday in what residents hope will be the company’s final attempt to build one of its giant stores in this rural Eastern Shore community.
In 1999, after Home Depot and other big box retailers proposed stores in the town of Easton, the City Council enacted a big box moratorium and subsequently adopted an ordinance barring stores over 65,000 square feet.
An Interview with Stacy Mitchel, a researcher with the New Rules Project.
Multinational Monitor: What do you mean when you refer to localism?
Stacy Mitchell: We mean a shift away from policies that have promoted large-scale production, long-distance transport lines and absentee ownership, and towards policies that foster an economy which is small-scale, community-based and locally owned.
MM: What’s the relationship between absentee ownership and long-distance transport, and democratic rule?
Strong protest from dozens of Asian small business owners has led Wal-Mart to drop plans for a giant supercenter in west Denver.
Wal-Mart had been working with the Denver Urban Renewal Authority (DURA) to condemn and bulldoze Alameda Square, a shopping center housing some 25 Vietnamese, Cambodian, Laotian and Chinese businesses, including the city’s largest Asian grocery store. This spring, DURA declared the center "blighted," the first step in evicting the businesses and clearing the way for Wal-Mart.
Local newspapers suffer a double blow when giant chains like Home Depot or Wal-Mart come to town. Not only do these companies rarely advertise in local newspapers, but they usually force dozens of independent retailers to close, eliminating significant sources of newspaper ad revenue.
In a recent article in Editor & Publisher, Mark Fitzgerald describes the deadly impact that the rise of corporate chains and decline of locally owned businesses has had on local newspapers.