In late May, Mexico’s antitrust agency, the Federal Competition Commission, opened an investigation into Wal-Mart for "monopolistic practices." The action was prompted by charges that Wal-Mart has abused its market power by pressuring suppliers to sell goods below cost or at prices substantially lower than those available to other retailers (even after accounting for reasonable volume discounts).
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The state of Iowa is in the process of removing a direct link to Amazon.com from the homepage of its official web site (http://www.iowa.gov). Under the new policy, visitors who click on the prominently placed graphic, "Looking for books about Iowa? Click Here Now," will be directed instead to a page with links to both Amazon.com and Booksense.com, an e-commerce site for independent bookstores.
The decision followed a letter sent by the owners of nine Iowa bookstores.
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.
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 profile of the first Independent Business Alliance.
Plotting the overthrow of the franchised world, bookstore owner David Bolduc and political organizer Jeff Milchen strategize on how to preserve hometown businesses in Boulder, Colorado, and around the country. Continue reading
San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown vetoed an ordinance to require greater scrutiny of big box development. The measure passed the Board of Supervisors on a 7-to-4 vote in March. Eight votes are needed to override a mayoral veto.
The citywide ordinance would have required retail development projects larger than 50,000 square feet to undergo an impact review and obtain a conditional use permit before proceeding.
Steve Bercu, owner of Book People, a large independent bookstore in Austin, Texas, has been increasingly concerned about the decline of the city’s homegrown businesses. Like the rest of the country, Austin has seen as steady influx of national chains. Meanwhile, the local businesses so central to the city’s sense of place and character are disappearing.
About a year-and-a-half ago, Bercu learned about the Boulder Independent Business Alliance (BIBA) in Boulder, Colorado and decided to replicate the approach in Austin.
To counter competition from big box retailers, independent lighting stores are banding together in a cooperative called Lighting One. The coop enables members to reduce costs through joint purchasing and gain access to services and expertise that otherwise would be unaffordable.
"Lighting One puts us on a level playing field with the big boxes," says Marilyn Shulman, second generation owner of Bayshore Lighting, a 60-year-old lighting store in Long Island, New York.
Just a few years ago, industry observers were predicting the demise of independent funeral homes. Four giant companies were buying up thousands of independent mortuaries and rapidly consolidating the industry. By processing bodies at large regional embalming plants, buying in bulk, and sharing employees across multiple homes, the chains were expected to gain a significant financial edge over their independent competitors.
The now defunct Intimate Bookshop of North Carolina has filed suit against Barnes & Noble and Borders Books alleging that the chains used their market power to pressure publishers for special discounts and terms unavailable to other retailers.
According to documents filed in the case by Intimate’s attorney, Carl Person, the chains received an effective discount of 60 percent off the cover price, compared to only about 40-46 percent given to independent bookstores.