Is Wal-Mart Too Powerful?

Wal-Mart's rapid expansion and clout has dramatic impacts on American communities, and the retail giant is now opening urban stores.
September 29, 2003, 5am PDT | Chris Steins | @urbaninsight
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" 'When Wal-Mart comes in and people desert downtown because they like the selection and the low prices, it's hard for people in the antitrust community to say we should not let them do that,' says New York University law professor Harry First... The company's hugely ambitious expansion plans hinge on continuing its move out of its stronghold in the rural South and Midwest into urban America. This year, the company opened what it describes as 'one of its first truly urban stores' in Los Angeles, not far from Watts. Everyday low prices no doubt appeal to city dwellers no less than to their country cousins. But Wal-Mart's sense of itself as definitively American ('Wal-Mart is America,' boasts one top executive) is likely to be severely tested by the metropolis' high land costs, restrictive zoning codes, and combative labor unions -- not to mention its greater economic and cultural diversity."

Thanks to Chris Steins

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Published on Monday, October 6, 2003 in Business Week
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