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.
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"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.
Opponents of a massive Wal-Mart supercenter approved by the New Orleans City Council in April are fighting the so-called "done deal" on several fronts.
A coalition of organizations has filed two lawsuits challenging the decision. The plaintiffs include Smart Growth for Louisiana, the Coliseum Square Association, the Louisiana Landmarks Society, the Historic Magazine Row Association, and the Urban Conservancy.
Posters declaring "Celebrate Independents Week!" greeted customers of local stores in Tampa, Florida, during the week of July 4th. "As we celebrate our nation’s independence, we invite you to join us in celebrating our great local independents," the posters read.
Independents Week was conceived by Carla Jimenez, co-owner of Inkwood Books. For several years, Inkwood has used Independence Day as an opportunity to remind customers of the importance of locally owned businesses to the community.
Leading publishers will be involved in determining which books are carried at Borders Books stores under a new "category management" plan being phased in this year.
Under the plan, Borders is assigning each of 250 book categories—ranging from thrillers to romance novels—to one of the top publishers in that category. Borders will provide this "category captain" with detailed sales data for all titles in the category, including those of competitors.