In mid-May, the city council of Arcata, California voted 4-to-1 to enact a citywide cap on the number formula restaurants. The measure must pass a second reading on June 5. It will become law 30 days later. The ordinance defines a formula restaurant as one that shares the same design, menu, trademark, and other characteristics with twelve or more other establishments. The ordinance bars a formula restaurant from locating within the city unless it is replacing an existing formula restaurant at the same location. Continue reading
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Six weeks after an advisory referendum won broad support from residents, the Ocean Beach, California, planning board voted 8-to-4 in early May to recommend that the city council adopt an ordinance banning all formula restaurants and retail businesses.
Ocean Beach is a neighborhood of San Diego with a population of about 15,000. Each of the city’s neighborhoods has its own master plan and elected planning board.
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. Continue reading
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. Continue reading
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. Continue reading
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. Continue reading
A coalition of neighborhood, small business, and environmental groups has gathered more than 4,000 petition signatures against a proposed Wal-Mart store in Vancouver, Canada. Continue reading
The Bozeman, Montana city commission is expected to vote later this month on a zoning ordinance that would require proposals for stores larger than 50,000 square feet (less than half the size of a typical Wal-Mart) to undergo an economic impact review before gaining approval. Continue reading
In every region of the country, chain store developers have successfully played neighboring communities against one another to gain approval for their stores and to exact the biggest tax breaks and public subsidies. But nowhere have city officials been as desperate for sales tax revenue—and thus big box stores, shopping malls, and auto dealerships—than in California, where the competition for retail development has been especially costly and destructive. Continue reading