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Saturday, August 21, 2004

Corporate Squatting: Another Way Wal-Mart Destroys the Competition

This could be a Wal-Mart near you

Okay, I know that Wal-Mart bashing is a sort of cheap shot--it's just so shooting-fish-in-a-barrel easy to do--but when I read this article (courtesy of Utne Reader), even my jaw dropped.

Entitled "Wal-Mart, What a Bargain," this gem from the progressive magazine Terrain has the usual list of disgusting facts about the chain that everyone loves to hate--but then I read down to this little-known fact:

"Once Wal-Mart stifles its competition in a region, it consolidates its holdings by vacating many of its stores. To limit competitors in the future, the leases of these dark Wal-Marts prevent them from being used for retail. Other uses for these massive windowless structures are limited.

"As of this February, Wal-Mart possesses 371 dead stores. Half of these buildings have been vacant for at least two years, and 21 percent have not been used for at least five years. Over that time, the number of dead Wal-Marts has risen 38 percent.

"In 1999 California had only one dead Wal-Mart; now it has a dozen. Supercenters would increase that number. Meanwhile, Wal-Mart opens a new store every 42 hours."

Now, even die-hard conservatives would have trouble spouting "free market" rhetoric in the face of this gross abuse of real estate law. Indeed, this is the grossest form of corporate welfare. Wal-Mart has shown that it can and will break every law that it can unitl it's forced to stop. The basic theory seems to be that if you're big enough and do enough bad things, as opposed to only one or two, you can get away with all of your transgressions.

This is a form of corporate malignancy at its worst, and puts a fine point on any "cancer" analogies. A huge store comes into a community, destroys the surrounding businesses, and then deliberatley goes out of business itself--but makes sure that nothing else can flourish in the space that it once occupied. Guess if you don't pay your workers enough to actually shop at your store, and put everyone else in an area out of work, you can't pay your own bills in the long run.

I am beyond even trying to figure out the reason, other than sheer spite, for this business "strategy."

Jen's prediction: The next big Wal-Mart lawsuit will be by a civic group that wants to use a "dark" Wal-Mart for some kind of retail--such as a market or swap area.

Yet another reason not to shop at Wal-Mart.

posted by Jenonymous @ 10:20:00 PM

10:20:00 PM

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