Rivals Secretly Finance Opposition to Wal-Mart

Wall St. Journal:

Rivals Secretly Finance Opposition to Wal-Mart

MUNDELEIN, Ill.—Robert Brownson long believed that his proposed development here, with its 200,000-square-foot Wal-Mart Supercenter, was being held hostage by nearby homeowners.
He had seen them protesting at city hall, and they had filed a lawsuit to stop the project.
What he didn't know was that the locals were getting a lot of help. A grocery chain with nine stores in the area had hired Saint Consulting Group to secretly run the antidevelopment campaign. Saint is a specialist at fighting proposed Wal-Marts, and it uses tactics it describes as "black arts."

As Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has grown into the largest grocery seller in the U.S., similar battles have played out in hundreds of towns like Mundelein. Local activists and union groups have been the public face of much of the resistance. But in scores of cases, large supermarket chains including Supervalu Inc., Safeway Inc. and Ahold NV have retained Saint Consulting to block Wal-Mart, according to hundreds of pages of Saint documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal and interviews with former employees.

Saint has jokingly called its staff the "Wal-Mart killers." P. Michael Saint, the company's founder, declines to discuss specific clients or campaigns. When read a partial list of the company's supermarket clients, he responds that "if those names are true, I would say I was proud that some of the largest, most sophisticated companies were so pleased with our success and discretion that they hired us over the years."

Supermarkets that have funded campaigns to stop Wal-Mart are concerned about having to match the retailing giant's low prices lest they lose market share. Although they have managed to stop some projects, they haven't put much of a dent in Wal-Mart's growth in the U.S., where it has more than 2,700 supercenters—large stores that sell groceries and general merchandise. Last year, 51% of Wal-Mart's $258 billion in U.S. revenue came from grocery sales.

And I'm sure before they open a store Wal-Mart creates some equally "grass roots" We Love Wal-Mart groups.

This is actually not new. Years ago, I worked in the point of sale (cash register!) business for the grocery biz and was told about scenarios such as this:

In a town there are 3 grocery stores, say Kroger, Supervalu and Wegmans. Kroger exits the market. Supervalu and Wegmans will partner to buy and hold the lease jointly on the former Kroger store location. It will sit empty and boarded up, literally for years. The reason is that they wish to prevent another chain, say Acme, from entering the market. It literally costs them less to lease an empty building than to take a cut into their business.

Been going on for decades!

God bless

Tony

[quote="agp2176, post:2, topic:201097"]
This is actually not new. Years ago, I worked in the point of sale (cash register!) business for the grocery biz and was told about scenarios such as this:

In a town there are 3 grocery stores, say Kroger, Supervalu and Wegmans. Kroger exits the market. Supervalu and Wegmans will partner to buy and hold the lease jointly on the former Kroger store location. It will sit empty and boarded up, literally for years. The reason is that they wish to prevent another chain, say Acme, from entering the market. It literally costs them less to lease an empty building than to take a cut into their business.

Been going on for decades!

God bless

Tony

[/quote]

Not to mention the unions get in on the action... When I was working at "da Acame" (bought by Supervalu while I was there), the union would try to get us to picket non-union shop openings. Which is why you don't have full grocery stores in NJ Walmarts.

If it was April 1st I would be questioning the Wall Street Journal article because:

Saint is a specialist at fighting proposed Wal-Marts, and it uses tactics it describes as "black arts."

The project manager arranged for a lawyer, William Graft, who had experience fighting land-use battles, to represent neighbors who opposed the development, according to Saint documents.

And near the end of the article:

The development is still in limbo.

Maybe this didn't need to go in the Secular News forum after all... :D

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