Big boxes

The (entire) Candy Store, outlined in yellow

Recent television ads about The Shops at Target have had countless independent retailers spinning like a whirling dervish. “Store within a store” concepts have been highly successful for numerous vendors (think: the Coach department at Macy’s, the Kiehl’s counters at Nordstrom, and a bazillion Vera Bradley walls in gift shops everywhere). Incorporating the format into big boxes—using the “local independents” angle, no less—has rattled more than a couple of cages.

The fact Target advertises these “Shops” as “a curated collection of home, beauty, fashion and pet products from…specialty stores” doesn’t help, painting a picture of cozy environments bubbling with delight, nestled between familiar red walls, bursting with exciting designs, catchy displays, oh-my-gosh-that’s-to-die-for offerings.

Well folks, they aren’t. Not even close.

[click here to continue…]


The true weight of Walmart

by Cinda Baxter on March 8, 2012

in Big boxes, Real World

Here’s an interesting graphic that tells the story of how much weight Walmart levels on not only local economies, but our lives in general. Thanks to Janet DePreter (owner, The Mercantile in Lancaster CA, and member of The 3/50 Project’s LinkedIn Group) for the heads up.

As for Walmart’s tag line, “Live better”…by whose definition? After reading the info below, you’ll be asking yourself the same thing (if you weren’t already).

To see the graphic —>   [click here to continue…]


Wow. In under 24 hours, one company elevated their brand…and another shattered their reputation.

A picture says a thousand words. Take a gander at three bays of Crane & Co. greeting cards…at Walmart. Note the clearly branded displays emblazoned with the manufacturer’s logo:   [click here to continue…]


From the “Weekend News” segment on Saturday Night Live, November 5, 2011:

“Macy’s announced this week that its flagship store in Manhattan will undergo a $400 million renonvation that will create the world’s largest women’s shoe department, featuring more than 300,000 pairs of shoes, and—as always—one cashier.”


“Several department stores have announced that on Black Friday—the day after Thanksgiving and the beginning of the Christmas shopping season—they will open their stores at midnight because nothing puts people in the giving spirit like enduring a long, stressful holiday with their family, hopping in the car half drunk in the middle of the night, and battling an angry mob over a tennis bracelet.”

On behalf of the mom and pop businesses everywhere, thank you, Seth Meyers. Big time.

(If you haven’t seen it yet, check out Keep the Cheer HereThe 3/50 Project’s 2011 holiday campaign.)



Independent merchants in the hobby, craft, and framing industries have long spoken about misleading practices by Michaels stores—most specifically, advertising deep discounts while actually charging full price.

Well, as the saying goes, the chickens have come home to roost.  [click here to continue…]


Spotted just inside the entrance of Borders Books in Mansfield, MA:

As a nearby retailer elloquently put it, “Do you think they are a little bitter? No wonder they are closing….”

Thanks to Ann Foley-Collins (Glee Gifts) for sharing this. Wow.


Independent business owners are often stunned upon learning about the plethora of financial incentives offered to big boxes by cities hoping to snag the next big supercenter. From deep property tax discounts to long term cash infusions to (in the most radical cases) negotiated sales tax payments, the rules are anything but consistent. Big guys get big deals; little guys pay full fare.  [click here to continue…]


When “buy local”/”shop local” messaging hit its stride two years ago, big boxes and national chains quickly realized their corner on marketplace visibility was being eclipsed. Cost-conscious consumers were not only thinking about the price of an item, but the impact of where they purchased it. Before long, we saw mega-retailers repackaging the “buy local” message to include themselves—they’d procure broccoli from a nearby grower, then advertise themselves as part of the “local” movement. Carry meat packaged by a company located in a nearby town, then tell consumers they were buying “local.”

Uh yeah…not so much.

Well, Chapter Two of The Repackaging of Buy Local has begun to roll out, and it’s even more troubling. [click here to continue…]