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• Interesting piece in the New York Times this morning about how Walmart - often described as a scourge for small businesses - actually helps many such concerns survive and thrive through services offered by its Sam’s Club division.

According to the story, “For thousands of independently owned convenience stores, restaurants and hair salons, the nation's largest — and most feared — retailer also happens to be a business partner. Through its Sam's Club division, a chain of 570 club stores, Wal-Mart helps them process credit-card transactions, build Web sites, pay employees and take out loans, all at bargain prices.

“In that sense, Sam's Club is an oasis within the harsh climate of Wal-Mart. At Sam's, the very qualities that make Wal-Mart such a formidable competitor — its size and hard-nosed negotiating tactics with suppliers — have been unleashed on behalf of small businesses.”
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