business news in context, analysis with attitude

  • The St. Petersburg Times reports that “what was supposed to be a routine site review for a new Wal-Mart supercenter at 10490 Gandy Blvd. turned into a major defeat for the retail giant when the Environmental Development Commission rejected its plan 5-2.”

    The decision seems to have caught even Wal-Mart’s opponent by surprise, but the paper notes that the battle “wasn't the typical David vs. Goliath match-up.” Opponents, in fact, ran “a well-funded and highly organized effort to block the development.” And “residents began organizing months ago and have raised more than $5,000 to fund their effort. Their group, Concerned Citizens for Gandy Boulevard, regularly sends out e-mail notices updating members on the latest city action. They came to City Hall on Wednesday armed with a land-use lawyer, traffic engineer, environmental consultant and reams of data.”

    The Times reports that the issue is hardly dead, and that Wal-Mart still will have the opportunity to address the concerns raised by residents and the Environmental Development Commission. But the message, according to the Times, seems to be that resistance is not always futile…as long as the resistance is well-funded, organized and based in some level of fact.

  • CNN reports that Wal-Mart Stores is denying a story that was widely reported last week, including here on MNB. The company says that it will continue selling VHS tapes as long as people want to buy them, and will not be discontinuing the format from its stores.

    "While it's true that there is stronger growth in demand for DVDs, many of our customers have VHS recorders and therefore still want VHS tapes," said Karen Burk, spokeswoman for Wal-Mart. "We will continue to sell the VHS tapes as long as there is a demand from our customers."

    The original report, published by the Hollywood Reporter, said that both Wal-Mart and Target were making the move, following a lead set by Best Buy and Circuit City.

  • The Morning News in Arkansas reports that a man there is suing Wal-Mart, charging that he was wrongfully terminated after he brought it to the company’s attention that there were “unacceptable working conditions” at factories producing goods for the retailer in Central and South America.

    Wal-Mart says that the man, James Lyn,, was fired for violating the company’s fraternization policy.

  • There are reports in the South American press that Wal-Mart is in talks with an Argentine bank that would have the company offering financial services first in Wal-Mart’s California stores, and then expand the offering to other regions of the country.

  • Some residents of Halifax, Nova Scotia, were up in arms recently when they saw a sign announcing that a new Wal-Mart would be built there, to be opened in about a year. The phone reportedly rang off the hook in the offices of local officials, as residents wondered what was going on.

    As it ends up, nothing was going on.

    The sign was actually an experiment by local architecture students, who wanted to know how residents would react to the notion of a Wal-Mart coming to town. The result, by the way, was that 25 percent of residents seemed to think it was a pretty good idea.

    Local authorities, however, were not amused.

KC's View:
It’s funny how people react to stuff like this.

About two years ago, at an old, abandoned Howard Johnson’s restaurant in the rather straight-laced Connecticut town where we live (some might call it “stuck up” and “self-important” rather than “straight laced,” but that’s all a matter of perspective), a sign went up saying that a Hooters restaurant would be opening there soon. Well, the place went into a veritable frenzy…and it lasted until local officials were able to reassure folks that it was just a hoax. Amazingly, nobody ever was able to figure out who perpetrated the gag; a couple of people thought it was us, but, unfortunately, we can’t lay claim to this particular stunt.

The punch line is that earlier this year, another sign went up announcing that a so-called “gentleman’s club” would be opening there – another hoax, as it turned out, but hardly anybody paid attention this time.

You can fool some of the people some of the time…