“Big-Box Swindle” Author Speaks To DIMA Audience on Evils of Big-Box Retail

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The Davis Independent Merchants Association (DIMA) held their first public event last night in the basement of the Davis Teen Center. Author Stacy Mitchell who wrote the book “The Big-Box Swindle” spoke before a good sized crowd about the problems that communities face with the arrival and proliferation of big-box retail.

Organizer Don Shor was very pleased with both the number and diversity of the audience.

“I was pleased with the turnout (I did a head count near the end, came up with about 70). Particularly interested and pleased with the diversity of professions in the audience. A couple of developers, the mayor, city staff, a real estate broker who specializes in highway commercial properties, along with some community activists, chair of DDBA, etc. An unusual and interesting mix, I thought.”

Mitchell, who resides in Portland, Maine, works for an organization known as the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. She went around the country as she wrote the book, interviewing some 200 independent businesses from across the country. What she found is that big-box retail did particular damage to the local community in a number of ways.

First, most money spent at a Wal Mart or another big-box store, leaves the local economy. As Don Shor said in his introduction, local dollars spent on local business will stay locally. However, money spent on Big-Boxes largely leaves the community. A huge percentage goes to the corporate office that then spends their profits on out of area suppliers. Moreover, because the corporate office is based regionally if not nationally, there is lack of a connection to a particular community.

The intention of Mitchell was to write a book that put a face on the trend of consolidation towards bigger, larger, and fewer locally owned businesses being replaced by national chains. This overall trend has contributed to the continued loss of manufacturing jobs in the U.S. since 1990. A lot of this loss can be attributed by the pressure put on suppliers by big-box to reduce their rates and cut overhead in an attempt to save money. These manufacturing jobs have been the pillar of the American middle class. And as these retailers rely more and more on cheaper out-sourced production, avenues to the middle class have been closed off to many Americans.

In many ways, Mitchell describes this as a sort of colonialism. “This doesn’t look a lot like progress,” she said, “What it really looks like is colonialism.” A new colonialism that sucks money and jobs out of a community–big boxes enter a community and plunder its resources, rather than adding value and enhancing the local economy.

As the push comes from a local level to develop cleaner and greener policies in an attempt to mitigate the effects of global warming, it is important to note the impact that big-box retail has on the environment. And we must question our leaders’ priorities in this manner–as they at one point promote big-box retail development while at the same time speaking of their concerns about global warming.

One of the key impacts that Mitchell describes on the environment is the contribution that Wal-Mart and other big boxes have made to the carbon footprint. Not merely in terms of production and consumption, but in the form of transportation to and from the store. Mitchell describes a 40 percent increase in driving for the purposes of shopping. Americans drive more than 100 billion miles for shopping. There has been three times the increase in miles driven for shopping than for all other purposes combined. And this directly relates to the size and scale of the operation that has necessitated a move away from neighborhoods and other nearby locations and towards larger and more consolidated locations with the roads, infrastructure and parking to accommodate the number of people who would frequent a big-box store.

As neighborhood stores leave, people are forced to drive further and further distances to do their shopping. In addition, there is a link between the scale and the type of transportation that people use. People are more likely to walk or bike to smaller and more locally owned stores but they are most likely to drive to big-box stores.

Another key aspect in the rise of the big box retail giant is the perception by the public that locally owned businesses are more expensive, and that big-box retailers are cheaper across the board. According to Mitchell that is not necessarily true. She cited a Consumer Reports study from a year and a half ago where they looked at electronic consumer goods. What they found is that the best prices were not at the giant national chains like Best Buy or Home Depot or others, rather they were at smaller and more locally based stores.

Part of the way that big-box retail creates the impression of lower prices is by having a few goods that are quite cheap. Mitchell described goods that are essentially “loss leaders” that are used to create an impression of overall lower costs. For instance they may highlight a few items like DVDs and have them appear to be at very low prices, while most of their goods are around the same price you would get at a local business.

Finally Mitchell described three ways that we can fight back. She noted a trend of a lot of communities saying no to Big-Box. Even in Davis, where Target eventually won the election, they had to fight hard to gain a foothold. The first change she described was a policy issue; and looking for ways to change the way in which small business is undermined by local policy. And, she said to look at size limitation and changes to zoning policies. A lot of communities automatically zone all new development commercial, which allows retail stores to come in on the outskirts, leapfrog and undermine existing business, rather than developing business in areas that will support existing business. She advocated keeping business in the center of cities and towns and then developing mixed use zoning laws to support these city centers.

Second, we need small business development programs that will help build and maintain a local business base.

Along similar lines, we need greater public awareness about big boxes and the importance of local business. The public needs to know the consequences of their choices to shop at big-boxes rather than putting their money into local business. There have increasingly been “buy local” campaigns aimed at encouraging people to spend their money at local businesses rather than big-box retail. Mitchell described the summer tourist months in Portland, ME where the visitors go to the more recognizable and familiar national chains rather than local business. A member of the audience described the student population as initially going to the more familiar chains rather than local business. The public needs to be educated on the advantages of local business not just from an economic standpoint, but from a consumer standpoint.

After the meeting, I asked organizer Don Shor about some of his thoughts on what we should take away from the meeting.

“I would be interested to look in more detail into her comments about big box not always having the lower prices. I’ve frankly avoided that argument because it is hard to verify, but perhaps she has seen research. I’m very familiar with their use of loss leaders, not to mention predatory pricing.”

“There are some practical policy issues she reviewed (rather quickly) which can be encouraged at the local level: maintain the existing downtown+neighborhood shopping focus, retain the store size limitation, avoid peripheral retail sprawl. Those are zoning and development issues, so they can be done. I liked her comment that it was ‘surprising’ to come to a community which had store size limits already, and had made such a key change in them, while other communities across the country are just now embracing them.”

What role can DIMA play in helping to support local business in Davis? Mitchell mentioned a “buy local” mentality? In what ways can Davis promote this type of mentality?

“The things we’ve talked about, in addition to educational events like this, involve the ‘branding’ idea she mentioned: creating a visible way for people to find and recognize the locally owned business. Coop advertising, promotions city-wide and of course. continuing to support local groups that need donations, volunteers, etc.: building relationships.
The city itself, including the commissions, can stop focusing on sales tax leakage and start focusing on providing strong neighborhood shopping centers, and continue to support the events that DDBA and others put on (city staff does a great job on that; I don’t think there’s anything to complain about on that front). If the commissioners and councilmembers who supported Target had spent half as much time trying to find healthy tenants for the struggling east and far west Davis shopping centers, the people who live there would have strong, healthy neighborhoods. They wouldn’t have to drive across (or out of) town to shop. They could do it right in the existing centers they already have.
Abolishing BEDC would be another possibility. At the very least, changing its guidelines to exclude ‘leakage’ (it’s in there) and include ‘encourage existing locally owned businesses’.”
Don Shor mentioned that Yolo County Supervisor Matt Rexroad sent in a number of questions, most of which were addressed by Stacy Mitchell indirectly during the course of her presentation. One that really struck me though was his first question:

“Where does individual consumer choice come in to play in her view? If we assume she is 100% right then why not allow the consumers to vote with their feet once they are informed?”

I think there are good reasons as to why the local community should not allow consumers to vote with their feet, but I think given that big-box retail now exists–it exists outside of Davis within a reasonable driving distance and soon it will exist in Davis. The key is to educate the public and make them informed, because ultimately if one can change consumer behavior and give people reasons to shop locally both in terms of economic vitality, environmental awareness, and also from the standpoint of the consumer–good prices, quality service, and good selection, then local communities can beat back big-box retail in the market place. Now the problem is that big-box retail has a lot of advantages of scale and can often use unfair tactics to undercut competition. But that is at least where I think we need to start in addition to maintaining our current zoning and peripheral development practices.

Overall Don Shor said Mitchell’s presentation was,

“Very thorough, good detail. It provided a good overview, with some sound policy implications.”

I agree and would encourage people interested in this issue to take a look at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website which has links to a number of good articles and good information about big-box retail and what local communities can do about it.

—Doug Paul Davis reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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76 thoughts on ““Big-Box Swindle” Author Speaks To DIMA Audience on Evils of Big-Box Retail”

  1. 無名 - wu ming

    one thing i’ve seen in bellingham, washington, that has managed to come back pretty from a peripheral mall hollowing out their downtown a couple decades ago, is the use of (fairly attractive) posters in all local businesses that say something to the effect of “buy local,” laying out the reasons why it’s important. if you can tiwe it into a local sense of self – and lord knows davis has that in abundance – you can make some headway. getting word out to students, especially with the incoming freshman class, might not be a bad idea either.

  2. 無名 - wu ming

    one thing i’ve seen in bellingham, washington, that has managed to come back pretty from a peripheral mall hollowing out their downtown a couple decades ago, is the use of (fairly attractive) posters in all local businesses that say something to the effect of “buy local,” laying out the reasons why it’s important. if you can tiwe it into a local sense of self – and lord knows davis has that in abundance – you can make some headway. getting word out to students, especially with the incoming freshman class, might not be a bad idea either.

  3. 無名 - wu ming

    one thing i’ve seen in bellingham, washington, that has managed to come back pretty from a peripheral mall hollowing out their downtown a couple decades ago, is the use of (fairly attractive) posters in all local businesses that say something to the effect of “buy local,” laying out the reasons why it’s important. if you can tiwe it into a local sense of self – and lord knows davis has that in abundance – you can make some headway. getting word out to students, especially with the incoming freshman class, might not be a bad idea either.

  4. 無名 - wu ming

    one thing i’ve seen in bellingham, washington, that has managed to come back pretty from a peripheral mall hollowing out their downtown a couple decades ago, is the use of (fairly attractive) posters in all local businesses that say something to the effect of “buy local,” laying out the reasons why it’s important. if you can tiwe it into a local sense of self – and lord knows davis has that in abundance – you can make some headway. getting word out to students, especially with the incoming freshman class, might not be a bad idea either.

  5. Don Shor

    Anonymous said…

    ” Awesome! Please shop in Woodland.”

    Absolutely. Woodland residents should shop at locally owned Woodland businesses. Rather than at the mall or the big box stores that are destroying Woodland’s downtown.

  6. Don Shor

    Anonymous said…

    ” Awesome! Please shop in Woodland.”

    Absolutely. Woodland residents should shop at locally owned Woodland businesses. Rather than at the mall or the big box stores that are destroying Woodland’s downtown.

  7. Don Shor

    Anonymous said…

    ” Awesome! Please shop in Woodland.”

    Absolutely. Woodland residents should shop at locally owned Woodland businesses. Rather than at the mall or the big box stores that are destroying Woodland’s downtown.

  8. Don Shor

    Anonymous said…

    ” Awesome! Please shop in Woodland.”

    Absolutely. Woodland residents should shop at locally owned Woodland businesses. Rather than at the mall or the big box stores that are destroying Woodland’s downtown.

  9. Anonymous

    I don’t have extra income to throw around for a good cause. I want lots of variety and cheap prices.

    signed,
    The American Consumer

  10. Anonymous

    I don’t have extra income to throw around for a good cause. I want lots of variety and cheap prices.

    signed,
    The American Consumer

  11. Anonymous

    I don’t have extra income to throw around for a good cause. I want lots of variety and cheap prices.

    signed,
    The American Consumer

  12. Anonymous

    I don’t have extra income to throw around for a good cause. I want lots of variety and cheap prices.

    signed,
    The American Consumer

  13. Anonymous

    I think the point that you are missing Mr. American consumer is that the cheap prices are not nearly as cheap as you think they are. The consumer reports study is probably the best I have seen on this matter with regards to electronics.

  14. Anonymous

    I think the point that you are missing Mr. American consumer is that the cheap prices are not nearly as cheap as you think they are. The consumer reports study is probably the best I have seen on this matter with regards to electronics.

  15. Anonymous

    I think the point that you are missing Mr. American consumer is that the cheap prices are not nearly as cheap as you think they are. The consumer reports study is probably the best I have seen on this matter with regards to electronics.

  16. Anonymous

    I think the point that you are missing Mr. American consumer is that the cheap prices are not nearly as cheap as you think they are. The consumer reports study is probably the best I have seen on this matter with regards to electronics.

  17. Whaah-whaaah-whaah

    To the Amurikan Consumer:

    I’m lazy. I want brand names and large corporations that I can recognize because I’m lazy and scared to take a chance on anything. I don’t want to learn that there are better deals out there when I don’t buy from stores that send their dollars out of town.

    I also want a LOT of stuff to fill up my 3-car garage so that I can’t actually park my 2 cars in there (one’s a “Hybrid” SUV that gets 22MPG. Does that count?).

    Having lots of stuff makes me feel important and less insecure. I get that good feeling when I go shopping for stuff that I don’t actually need.

  18. Whaah-whaaah-whaah

    To the Amurikan Consumer:

    I’m lazy. I want brand names and large corporations that I can recognize because I’m lazy and scared to take a chance on anything. I don’t want to learn that there are better deals out there when I don’t buy from stores that send their dollars out of town.

    I also want a LOT of stuff to fill up my 3-car garage so that I can’t actually park my 2 cars in there (one’s a “Hybrid” SUV that gets 22MPG. Does that count?).

    Having lots of stuff makes me feel important and less insecure. I get that good feeling when I go shopping for stuff that I don’t actually need.

  19. Whaah-whaaah-whaah

    To the Amurikan Consumer:

    I’m lazy. I want brand names and large corporations that I can recognize because I’m lazy and scared to take a chance on anything. I don’t want to learn that there are better deals out there when I don’t buy from stores that send their dollars out of town.

    I also want a LOT of stuff to fill up my 3-car garage so that I can’t actually park my 2 cars in there (one’s a “Hybrid” SUV that gets 22MPG. Does that count?).

    Having lots of stuff makes me feel important and less insecure. I get that good feeling when I go shopping for stuff that I don’t actually need.

  20. Whaah-whaaah-whaah

    To the Amurikan Consumer:

    I’m lazy. I want brand names and large corporations that I can recognize because I’m lazy and scared to take a chance on anything. I don’t want to learn that there are better deals out there when I don’t buy from stores that send their dollars out of town.

    I also want a LOT of stuff to fill up my 3-car garage so that I can’t actually park my 2 cars in there (one’s a “Hybrid” SUV that gets 22MPG. Does that count?).

    Having lots of stuff makes me feel important and less insecure. I get that good feeling when I go shopping for stuff that I don’t actually need.

  21. Don Shor

    One DVD that I watched a year or so ago with my son was ‘WalMart: the High Cost of Low Prices.’ It’s an eye opener, and gives useful perspective on the hidden costs of Big Box pricing policies.

    Brand identification with the biggest retailers is very high. So local merchants work to create a ‘brand’ identification for residents, newcomers, and visitors to associate with locally owned businesses. Stacy mentioned the Bellingham program; I gather it is something like ‘Top Ten Reasons To Shop Locally’, and you see the different posters in different stores.

    I hope Bellingham merchants feel that imitation is a form of flattery….

  22. Don Shor

    One DVD that I watched a year or so ago with my son was ‘WalMart: the High Cost of Low Prices.’ It’s an eye opener, and gives useful perspective on the hidden costs of Big Box pricing policies.

    Brand identification with the biggest retailers is very high. So local merchants work to create a ‘brand’ identification for residents, newcomers, and visitors to associate with locally owned businesses. Stacy mentioned the Bellingham program; I gather it is something like ‘Top Ten Reasons To Shop Locally’, and you see the different posters in different stores.

    I hope Bellingham merchants feel that imitation is a form of flattery….

  23. Don Shor

    One DVD that I watched a year or so ago with my son was ‘WalMart: the High Cost of Low Prices.’ It’s an eye opener, and gives useful perspective on the hidden costs of Big Box pricing policies.

    Brand identification with the biggest retailers is very high. So local merchants work to create a ‘brand’ identification for residents, newcomers, and visitors to associate with locally owned businesses. Stacy mentioned the Bellingham program; I gather it is something like ‘Top Ten Reasons To Shop Locally’, and you see the different posters in different stores.

    I hope Bellingham merchants feel that imitation is a form of flattery….

  24. Don Shor

    One DVD that I watched a year or so ago with my son was ‘WalMart: the High Cost of Low Prices.’ It’s an eye opener, and gives useful perspective on the hidden costs of Big Box pricing policies.

    Brand identification with the biggest retailers is very high. So local merchants work to create a ‘brand’ identification for residents, newcomers, and visitors to associate with locally owned businesses. Stacy mentioned the Bellingham program; I gather it is something like ‘Top Ten Reasons To Shop Locally’, and you see the different posters in different stores.

    I hope Bellingham merchants feel that imitation is a form of flattery….

  25. 無名 - wu ming

    here’s a link to bellingham’s “think local, buy local, be local” campaign, don. the image on the page is the poster that i remember seeing. i would expect they’d be excited to pass on ideas, it looks like there’s a link to a “local first how-to kit” that might be of use.

  26. 無名 - wu ming

    here’s a link to bellingham’s “think local, buy local, be local” campaign, don. the image on the page is the poster that i remember seeing. i would expect they’d be excited to pass on ideas, it looks like there’s a link to a “local first how-to kit” that might be of use.

  27. 無名 - wu ming

    here’s a link to bellingham’s “think local, buy local, be local” campaign, don. the image on the page is the poster that i remember seeing. i would expect they’d be excited to pass on ideas, it looks like there’s a link to a “local first how-to kit” that might be of use.

  28. 無名 - wu ming

    here’s a link to bellingham’s “think local, buy local, be local” campaign, don. the image on the page is the poster that i remember seeing. i would expect they’d be excited to pass on ideas, it looks like there’s a link to a “local first how-to kit” that might be of use.

  29. Matt Rexroad

    David:

    We have a fundamental disagreement on an important issue.

    I really do believe that people should have the freedom to make consumer choices. With that — some businesses win and some lose. If we assume that this author is right she can educate the public on her view of the situation. In the end consumer cans accept or reject that view.

    People can and should vote with thier feet. Government should stop trying to save people from themselves.

    Matt Rexroad

  30. Matt Rexroad

    David:

    We have a fundamental disagreement on an important issue.

    I really do believe that people should have the freedom to make consumer choices. With that — some businesses win and some lose. If we assume that this author is right she can educate the public on her view of the situation. In the end consumer cans accept or reject that view.

    People can and should vote with thier feet. Government should stop trying to save people from themselves.

    Matt Rexroad

  31. Matt Rexroad

    David:

    We have a fundamental disagreement on an important issue.

    I really do believe that people should have the freedom to make consumer choices. With that — some businesses win and some lose. If we assume that this author is right she can educate the public on her view of the situation. In the end consumer cans accept or reject that view.

    People can and should vote with thier feet. Government should stop trying to save people from themselves.

    Matt Rexroad

  32. Matt Rexroad

    David:

    We have a fundamental disagreement on an important issue.

    I really do believe that people should have the freedom to make consumer choices. With that — some businesses win and some lose. If we assume that this author is right she can educate the public on her view of the situation. In the end consumer cans accept or reject that view.

    People can and should vote with thier feet. Government should stop trying to save people from themselves.

    Matt Rexroad

  33. 無名 - wu ming

    unless they’re doing something that you find immoral – say using drugs or marrying same-sex partners – and then it’s fine for the government to save people from themselves by legally intervening?

    governments affect society and the economy all the time. every aspect of government is up for debate, as far as i’m concerned. unless one is an anarchist or an extreme libertarian, we all recognize grey area in the realm of intervention.

    as for this thread, it really isn’t the government doing much of anything; this is citizens trying to encourage their fellow citizens to shop locally, and to educate their fellow citizens on the long-term economic consequences of shopping at out of town chains or big box stores as opposed to local shops. the majority of the government – ie. city council – here voted to put the target in in the first place, so they’re not likely going to be doing much.

  34. 無名 - wu ming

    unless they’re doing something that you find immoral – say using drugs or marrying same-sex partners – and then it’s fine for the government to save people from themselves by legally intervening?

    governments affect society and the economy all the time. every aspect of government is up for debate, as far as i’m concerned. unless one is an anarchist or an extreme libertarian, we all recognize grey area in the realm of intervention.

    as for this thread, it really isn’t the government doing much of anything; this is citizens trying to encourage their fellow citizens to shop locally, and to educate their fellow citizens on the long-term economic consequences of shopping at out of town chains or big box stores as opposed to local shops. the majority of the government – ie. city council – here voted to put the target in in the first place, so they’re not likely going to be doing much.

  35. 無名 - wu ming

    unless they’re doing something that you find immoral – say using drugs or marrying same-sex partners – and then it’s fine for the government to save people from themselves by legally intervening?

    governments affect society and the economy all the time. every aspect of government is up for debate, as far as i’m concerned. unless one is an anarchist or an extreme libertarian, we all recognize grey area in the realm of intervention.

    as for this thread, it really isn’t the government doing much of anything; this is citizens trying to encourage their fellow citizens to shop locally, and to educate their fellow citizens on the long-term economic consequences of shopping at out of town chains or big box stores as opposed to local shops. the majority of the government – ie. city council – here voted to put the target in in the first place, so they’re not likely going to be doing much.

  36. 無名 - wu ming

    unless they’re doing something that you find immoral – say using drugs or marrying same-sex partners – and then it’s fine for the government to save people from themselves by legally intervening?

    governments affect society and the economy all the time. every aspect of government is up for debate, as far as i’m concerned. unless one is an anarchist or an extreme libertarian, we all recognize grey area in the realm of intervention.

    as for this thread, it really isn’t the government doing much of anything; this is citizens trying to encourage their fellow citizens to shop locally, and to educate their fellow citizens on the long-term economic consequences of shopping at out of town chains or big box stores as opposed to local shops. the majority of the government – ie. city council – here voted to put the target in in the first place, so they’re not likely going to be doing much.

  37. Don Shor

    Government frequently intervenes on behalf of the public to reduce costs. There are environmental costs to peripheral retail. There are increased costs for public services. The effect on existing neighborhood centers can lead to blight; we have two struggling neighborhood centers in Davis already.

    Zoning is routinely used to reduce the negative effects of different land use; in fact, our Measure K was specifically a zoning change. Following your logic, Matt, I could urge that people ‘vote with their feet’ and just move if someone wants to build a factory, trucking business, or agrichemical plant next door to their existing homes. Government has a role in mediating these conflicts, and often acts on behalf of those with fewer resources.

    I guarantee that all of the merchants in Davis put together have fewer resources than Target, and I think the history in your own town indicates what the result of unfettered development of large retail can do to the community’s retail health.

    Store size limitations are a reasonable means of growth and development management which have been have been implemented in over 200 communities. Just because one of the 3 large corporations capable of building these mega-stores wants to build one doesn’t mean that every community should have to accept it.

    The goal of a business organization such as ours is to educate and encourage the public to shop locally. But what we’ll be up against is one corporation which spends about 3/4 of a million dollars per store per year on advertising. We got lots of great ideas from Stacy’s talk, and hope to implement them. Meanwhile, I hope you shop as often as possible at the locally owned stores in Woodland. Those are your neighbors and community supporters.

  38. Don Shor

    Government frequently intervenes on behalf of the public to reduce costs. There are environmental costs to peripheral retail. There are increased costs for public services. The effect on existing neighborhood centers can lead to blight; we have two struggling neighborhood centers in Davis already.

    Zoning is routinely used to reduce the negative effects of different land use; in fact, our Measure K was specifically a zoning change. Following your logic, Matt, I could urge that people ‘vote with their feet’ and just move if someone wants to build a factory, trucking business, or agrichemical plant next door to their existing homes. Government has a role in mediating these conflicts, and often acts on behalf of those with fewer resources.

    I guarantee that all of the merchants in Davis put together have fewer resources than Target, and I think the history in your own town indicates what the result of unfettered development of large retail can do to the community’s retail health.

    Store size limitations are a reasonable means of growth and development management which have been have been implemented in over 200 communities. Just because one of the 3 large corporations capable of building these mega-stores wants to build one doesn’t mean that every community should have to accept it.

    The goal of a business organization such as ours is to educate and encourage the public to shop locally. But what we’ll be up against is one corporation which spends about 3/4 of a million dollars per store per year on advertising. We got lots of great ideas from Stacy’s talk, and hope to implement them. Meanwhile, I hope you shop as often as possible at the locally owned stores in Woodland. Those are your neighbors and community supporters.

  39. Don Shor

    Government frequently intervenes on behalf of the public to reduce costs. There are environmental costs to peripheral retail. There are increased costs for public services. The effect on existing neighborhood centers can lead to blight; we have two struggling neighborhood centers in Davis already.

    Zoning is routinely used to reduce the negative effects of different land use; in fact, our Measure K was specifically a zoning change. Following your logic, Matt, I could urge that people ‘vote with their feet’ and just move if someone wants to build a factory, trucking business, or agrichemical plant next door to their existing homes. Government has a role in mediating these conflicts, and often acts on behalf of those with fewer resources.

    I guarantee that all of the merchants in Davis put together have fewer resources than Target, and I think the history in your own town indicates what the result of unfettered development of large retail can do to the community’s retail health.

    Store size limitations are a reasonable means of growth and development management which have been have been implemented in over 200 communities. Just because one of the 3 large corporations capable of building these mega-stores wants to build one doesn’t mean that every community should have to accept it.

    The goal of a business organization such as ours is to educate and encourage the public to shop locally. But what we’ll be up against is one corporation which spends about 3/4 of a million dollars per store per year on advertising. We got lots of great ideas from Stacy’s talk, and hope to implement them. Meanwhile, I hope you shop as often as possible at the locally owned stores in Woodland. Those are your neighbors and community supporters.

  40. Don Shor

    Government frequently intervenes on behalf of the public to reduce costs. There are environmental costs to peripheral retail. There are increased costs for public services. The effect on existing neighborhood centers can lead to blight; we have two struggling neighborhood centers in Davis already.

    Zoning is routinely used to reduce the negative effects of different land use; in fact, our Measure K was specifically a zoning change. Following your logic, Matt, I could urge that people ‘vote with their feet’ and just move if someone wants to build a factory, trucking business, or agrichemical plant next door to their existing homes. Government has a role in mediating these conflicts, and often acts on behalf of those with fewer resources.

    I guarantee that all of the merchants in Davis put together have fewer resources than Target, and I think the history in your own town indicates what the result of unfettered development of large retail can do to the community’s retail health.

    Store size limitations are a reasonable means of growth and development management which have been have been implemented in over 200 communities. Just because one of the 3 large corporations capable of building these mega-stores wants to build one doesn’t mean that every community should have to accept it.

    The goal of a business organization such as ours is to educate and encourage the public to shop locally. But what we’ll be up against is one corporation which spends about 3/4 of a million dollars per store per year on advertising. We got lots of great ideas from Stacy’s talk, and hope to implement them. Meanwhile, I hope you shop as often as possible at the locally owned stores in Woodland. Those are your neighbors and community supporters.

  41. Doug Paul Davis

    Matt:

    I’m not opposed to that in principle. In practice, I think there are a number of inherent advantages that give the large corporation a decided advantage in such an endeavor to educate the public–name recognition being one of them, but also an ability to undercut their competition and even lose money in the short term that the local guy just cannot do. For those reasons, I think it is difficult for a local business in general to defeat a big box in such a market and thus I think they would need substantial help from dedicated local officials.

  42. Doug Paul Davis

    Matt:

    I’m not opposed to that in principle. In practice, I think there are a number of inherent advantages that give the large corporation a decided advantage in such an endeavor to educate the public–name recognition being one of them, but also an ability to undercut their competition and even lose money in the short term that the local guy just cannot do. For those reasons, I think it is difficult for a local business in general to defeat a big box in such a market and thus I think they would need substantial help from dedicated local officials.

  43. Doug Paul Davis

    Matt:

    I’m not opposed to that in principle. In practice, I think there are a number of inherent advantages that give the large corporation a decided advantage in such an endeavor to educate the public–name recognition being one of them, but also an ability to undercut their competition and even lose money in the short term that the local guy just cannot do. For those reasons, I think it is difficult for a local business in general to defeat a big box in such a market and thus I think they would need substantial help from dedicated local officials.

  44. Doug Paul Davis

    Matt:

    I’m not opposed to that in principle. In practice, I think there are a number of inherent advantages that give the large corporation a decided advantage in such an endeavor to educate the public–name recognition being one of them, but also an ability to undercut their competition and even lose money in the short term that the local guy just cannot do. For those reasons, I think it is difficult for a local business in general to defeat a big box in such a market and thus I think they would need substantial help from dedicated local officials.

  45. Don Shor

    It’s worth pointing out
    –some communities have given substantial tax advantages to the big retailers in order to entice them
    –predatory pricing has been proven against Wal-Mart
    –the bigger businesses can sustain a losing price structure much longer than an independent can (Blockbuster has had many unprofitable years, but their stock remained strong because of their aggressive growth strategy)
    –store size limits level the playing field. Had Target proposed a 30,000 sq. ft. store in an existing shopping center, it wouldn’t even have been subject to a vote.

  46. Don Shor

    It’s worth pointing out
    –some communities have given substantial tax advantages to the big retailers in order to entice them
    –predatory pricing has been proven against Wal-Mart
    –the bigger businesses can sustain a losing price structure much longer than an independent can (Blockbuster has had many unprofitable years, but their stock remained strong because of their aggressive growth strategy)
    –store size limits level the playing field. Had Target proposed a 30,000 sq. ft. store in an existing shopping center, it wouldn’t even have been subject to a vote.

  47. Don Shor

    It’s worth pointing out
    –some communities have given substantial tax advantages to the big retailers in order to entice them
    –predatory pricing has been proven against Wal-Mart
    –the bigger businesses can sustain a losing price structure much longer than an independent can (Blockbuster has had many unprofitable years, but their stock remained strong because of their aggressive growth strategy)
    –store size limits level the playing field. Had Target proposed a 30,000 sq. ft. store in an existing shopping center, it wouldn’t even have been subject to a vote.

  48. Don Shor

    It’s worth pointing out
    –some communities have given substantial tax advantages to the big retailers in order to entice them
    –predatory pricing has been proven against Wal-Mart
    –the bigger businesses can sustain a losing price structure much longer than an independent can (Blockbuster has had many unprofitable years, but their stock remained strong because of their aggressive growth strategy)
    –store size limits level the playing field. Had Target proposed a 30,000 sq. ft. store in an existing shopping center, it wouldn’t even have been subject to a vote.

  49. Mike

    Regarding Mr. Shor’s comment, “I would be interested to look in more detail into her comments about big box not always having the lower prices. I’ve frankly avoided that argument because it is hard to verify, but perhaps she has seen research. I’m very familiar with their use of loss leaders, not to mention predatory pricing.”

    Every big box store has a list of high visibility items where it MUST have the lowest price in town. Competitors are shopped regularly to make sure that this is the case. The example I like to use is the 100 watt “soft white” light bulb. They always sell for around 25 cents. They might be four for $1.00 or five for $1.25 or some other quantity/price combination, but they’re always a quarter at the big box stores.

    If a local merchant tries to sell the same bulb for $1.00 or even 50 cents, the consumer will assume that the independent’s prices are higher on EVERYTHING.

    Meanwhile, the big box will make excellent margins on every other bulb they sell because the consumers don’t know any better. So our anonymous shopper saves a few pennies on one item and pays more on ten other items.

    The key here is that Target, or Wally World, or Home Depot, or whoever it is, shops their competition every day. Forget their other advantages, this is an advantage that you can take back. If you don’t know what they’re charging for competitive items, you have no chance to compete; none.

    It doesn’t matter how big they are or how many tax breaks they get, the independent retailer can beat the chain store by being a better merchant than they are.

    Every community should do what it can to keep the playing field level. That means not giving tax breaks to out-of-town chains at the expense of local businesses. It means not spending your tax dollars to improve roads and build interchanges to help your customers get to their stores.

    But the fact is that if Target doesn’t build in your town they’re going to build in the next town down the road. It’s inevitable. The way to beat them is to take a clue from Survivor: Outplay, Outwit, Outlast.

  50. Mike

    Regarding Mr. Shor’s comment, “I would be interested to look in more detail into her comments about big box not always having the lower prices. I’ve frankly avoided that argument because it is hard to verify, but perhaps she has seen research. I’m very familiar with their use of loss leaders, not to mention predatory pricing.”

    Every big box store has a list of high visibility items where it MUST have the lowest price in town. Competitors are shopped regularly to make sure that this is the case. The example I like to use is the 100 watt “soft white” light bulb. They always sell for around 25 cents. They might be four for $1.00 or five for $1.25 or some other quantity/price combination, but they’re always a quarter at the big box stores.

    If a local merchant tries to sell the same bulb for $1.00 or even 50 cents, the consumer will assume that the independent’s prices are higher on EVERYTHING.

    Meanwhile, the big box will make excellent margins on every other bulb they sell because the consumers don’t know any better. So our anonymous shopper saves a few pennies on one item and pays more on ten other items.

    The key here is that Target, or Wally World, or Home Depot, or whoever it is, shops their competition every day. Forget their other advantages, this is an advantage that you can take back. If you don’t know what they’re charging for competitive items, you have no chance to compete; none.

    It doesn’t matter how big they are or how many tax breaks they get, the independent retailer can beat the chain store by being a better merchant than they are.

    Every community should do what it can to keep the playing field level. That means not giving tax breaks to out-of-town chains at the expense of local businesses. It means not spending your tax dollars to improve roads and build interchanges to help your customers get to their stores.

    But the fact is that if Target doesn’t build in your town they’re going to build in the next town down the road. It’s inevitable. The way to beat them is to take a clue from Survivor: Outplay, Outwit, Outlast.

  51. Mike

    Regarding Mr. Shor’s comment, “I would be interested to look in more detail into her comments about big box not always having the lower prices. I’ve frankly avoided that argument because it is hard to verify, but perhaps she has seen research. I’m very familiar with their use of loss leaders, not to mention predatory pricing.”

    Every big box store has a list of high visibility items where it MUST have the lowest price in town. Competitors are shopped regularly to make sure that this is the case. The example I like to use is the 100 watt “soft white” light bulb. They always sell for around 25 cents. They might be four for $1.00 or five for $1.25 or some other quantity/price combination, but they’re always a quarter at the big box stores.

    If a local merchant tries to sell the same bulb for $1.00 or even 50 cents, the consumer will assume that the independent’s prices are higher on EVERYTHING.

    Meanwhile, the big box will make excellent margins on every other bulb they sell because the consumers don’t know any better. So our anonymous shopper saves a few pennies on one item and pays more on ten other items.

    The key here is that Target, or Wally World, or Home Depot, or whoever it is, shops their competition every day. Forget their other advantages, this is an advantage that you can take back. If you don’t know what they’re charging for competitive items, you have no chance to compete; none.

    It doesn’t matter how big they are or how many tax breaks they get, the independent retailer can beat the chain store by being a better merchant than they are.

    Every community should do what it can to keep the playing field level. That means not giving tax breaks to out-of-town chains at the expense of local businesses. It means not spending your tax dollars to improve roads and build interchanges to help your customers get to their stores.

    But the fact is that if Target doesn’t build in your town they’re going to build in the next town down the road. It’s inevitable. The way to beat them is to take a clue from Survivor: Outplay, Outwit, Outlast.

  52. Mike

    Regarding Mr. Shor’s comment, “I would be interested to look in more detail into her comments about big box not always having the lower prices. I’ve frankly avoided that argument because it is hard to verify, but perhaps she has seen research. I’m very familiar with their use of loss leaders, not to mention predatory pricing.”

    Every big box store has a list of high visibility items where it MUST have the lowest price in town. Competitors are shopped regularly to make sure that this is the case. The example I like to use is the 100 watt “soft white” light bulb. They always sell for around 25 cents. They might be four for $1.00 or five for $1.25 or some other quantity/price combination, but they’re always a quarter at the big box stores.

    If a local merchant tries to sell the same bulb for $1.00 or even 50 cents, the consumer will assume that the independent’s prices are higher on EVERYTHING.

    Meanwhile, the big box will make excellent margins on every other bulb they sell because the consumers don’t know any better. So our anonymous shopper saves a few pennies on one item and pays more on ten other items.

    The key here is that Target, or Wally World, or Home Depot, or whoever it is, shops their competition every day. Forget their other advantages, this is an advantage that you can take back. If you don’t know what they’re charging for competitive items, you have no chance to compete; none.

    It doesn’t matter how big they are or how many tax breaks they get, the independent retailer can beat the chain store by being a better merchant than they are.

    Every community should do what it can to keep the playing field level. That means not giving tax breaks to out-of-town chains at the expense of local businesses. It means not spending your tax dollars to improve roads and build interchanges to help your customers get to their stores.

    But the fact is that if Target doesn’t build in your town they’re going to build in the next town down the road. It’s inevitable. The way to beat them is to take a clue from Survivor: Outplay, Outwit, Outlast.

  53. Anonymous

    I don’t have extra income to throw around for a good cause. I want lots of variety and cheap prices.

    signed,
    The American Consumer

    Shop with intelligence and you’ll find some great bargains.

  54. Anonymous

    I don’t have extra income to throw around for a good cause. I want lots of variety and cheap prices.

    signed,
    The American Consumer

    Shop with intelligence and you’ll find some great bargains.

  55. Anonymous

    I don’t have extra income to throw around for a good cause. I want lots of variety and cheap prices.

    signed,
    The American Consumer

    Shop with intelligence and you’ll find some great bargains.

  56. Anonymous

    I don’t have extra income to throw around for a good cause. I want lots of variety and cheap prices.

    signed,
    The American Consumer

    Shop with intelligence and you’ll find some great bargains.

  57. Doug Paul Davis

    Well Mr. American consumer, you’ve been swindled into believing that by purchasing products at big-boxes, you are saving money. If you had read the article carefully, you would have realized that.

  58. Doug Paul Davis

    Well Mr. American consumer, you’ve been swindled into believing that by purchasing products at big-boxes, you are saving money. If you had read the article carefully, you would have realized that.

  59. Doug Paul Davis

    Well Mr. American consumer, you’ve been swindled into believing that by purchasing products at big-boxes, you are saving money. If you had read the article carefully, you would have realized that.

  60. Doug Paul Davis

    Well Mr. American consumer, you’ve been swindled into believing that by purchasing products at big-boxes, you are saving money. If you had read the article carefully, you would have realized that.

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