A federal judge has dismissed all charges in the antitrust case brought by three independent video rental businesses against Blockbuster Video and several major Hollywood studios. The defendants were charged with price discrimination and conspiracy to prevent independent stores from gaining access to the same revenue-sharing deals available to Blockbuster.
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After more than four years of fighting to block three big box retailers, the town of Old Saybrook, Connecticut, has adopted an ordinance banning stores over 88,000 square feet. That’s about the size of two football fields, but smaller than a typical Home Depot or Target store. The new law also restricts commercial buildings in some parts of town to no more than 25,000 square feet.
A grassroots group, Citizens Organized for Responsible Development (CORD), in Ellsworth, Maine, has gathered the 1,109 signatures needed to place a measure calling for a temporary moratorium on new retail development on the November ballot.
If it passes, the referendum will suspend construction of retail stores larger than 80,000 square feet on undeveloped land and commercial expansion of more than 40,000 square feet on developed land for a period of six months.
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.
"We have a strong sense of community here," says Krista Wergeland, a resident of Manhattan’s Upper West Side and member of a neighborhood group working to block an incursion of fast-food restaurants and chain stores.
Long known for being unique and down-to-earth, the Upper West Side is increasingly popular with national retailers like Starbucks, the Gap, and Barnes & Noble. "You wake up and ask yourself: What’s happening to the identity of this community?" said one resident.
More than 200 residents of Hood River, Oregon, linked arms to form a giant circle around their downtown one Friday afternoon in late May. Organized by the Hood River Citizens for Responsible Growth (CRG), the "Arms Around Our Town" event was designed to demonstrate community support for locally owned businesses, and to illustrate just how large a proposed Wal-Mart supercenter would be and how many local stores would be threatened.
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.
Denver’s Asian stores are not alone in facing condemnation for a national chain. In a growing number of court cases around the country, small business owners are challenging attempts by local and state governments to seize their property for chain store development.
Traditionally, eminent domain—the power of government to take private property for public use, provided that the owner receive market value—has been used for schools, roads, and other public infrastructure.
Many city officials welcome large chain retailers for the tax revenue that create. Rarely do they consider the other side of the balance sheet: the tax losses that occur when chains displace local stores and the added costs of providing roads, sewers, police, fire, and other public services to the sprawling new development.
Added police costs are proving especially difficult for many communities that once welcomed big box stores. Take Port Richey, Florida, for example.