Dollar Stores Are Targeting Struggling Urban Neighborhoods and Small Towns. One Community Is Showing How to Fight Back.
Marie Donahue and Stacy Mitchell | December 6, 2018
It’s not easy to buy groceries if you live on the north side of Tulsa, Okla. This predominantly African American neighborhood does not have a single grocery store. For many residents, their only option for groceries nearby is a dollar store. And there are lots of those: Tulsa is now home to more than 50 dollar stores.
Since 2011, the number of dollar stores nationwide has climbed from about 20,000 to nearly 30,000. There are now more dollar stores than Walmart and Starbucks locations combined. And more are on the way. The two dominant chains — Dollar General and Dollar Tree, which owns Family Dollar — have identified locations for an additional 20,000 stores.
While dollar stores can fill a need in cash-strapped communities, there’s growing evidence that these stores are not merely profiting from economic distress. They’re causing it. In small towns and urban neighborhoods alike, dollar stores are leading full-service grocery stores to close, and their density in places like Tulsa is making it harder for new businesses to take root.
The consequences include fewer jobs and poorer public health. Most dollar stores carry only a limited selection of processed foods. And yet, dollar stores are now feeding more Americans than Whole Foods is.
In our latest feature, we look at the rise of dollar stores and their impact. And we tell the story of how a Tulsa city councilor rallied her constituents to pass the country’s first law limiting dollar stores specifically, and how the law has opened the way for a new local grocery store. Alongside the article, we’ve also released a fact sheet on dollar stores and what communities can do about them.
Read the feature and the fact sheet.
On WNYC's On the Media, Stacy Mitchell Talks Antitrust's Past and Future
Zach Freed | November 16, 2018
ILSR co-director Stacy Mitchell appeared on WNYC’s On The Media
to discuss antitrust law, its lineage, and the growing likelihood of an antitrust revival.
Stacy walks through the history of America’s anti-monopoly movement, from its origins in the late nineteenth century, to its heyday during the New Deal under Franklin Roosevelt, to its defanging in the 1980s. She moves on to Amazon, and the way the company’s power as a gatekeeper parallels that of the 19th century railroad monopolies that were the target of the nation's first antitrust actions.
The interview closes with a discussion of what a renewed wielding of antitrust laws might look like. To fix corporate concentration, we need to stop thinking of ourselves as consumers, Stacy says, and start thinking of ourselves as citizens.
Listen to that conversation in full here.
In Op-Ed for Fortune, ILSR Researcher Charlie Thaxton Links Amazon, Tax Incentives, and Market Concentration
Charlie Thaxton | November 21, 2018
ILSR Research Associate Charlie Thaxton wrote an op-ed piece for Fortune
on Amazon’s long history of gaming government. Most troubling of all might be the market consolidation and anticompetitive atmosphere public funds like tax incentives and subsidies awarded to Amazon are aiding.
Read the full op-ed here.
On Social Media
Stacy had a highly-cited tweet thread in response to Amazon's headquarters decision. She focuses on the valuable data Amazon was able to gain from the 238 cities that participated in the prolonged process, and how this information will give Amazon a competitive advantage as it looks to expand.
What We've Been Up To
- In the wake of Amazon’s headquarters decision, many journalists turned to ILSR for analysis and perspective. We were quoted in The New York Times (here and here), USA Today, The Washington Post, Democracy Now!, The American Conservative, Vox, The Atlantic, Slate, and Bloomberg, among others.
- Stacy also appeared on a panel put on by George Washington University and The Roosevelt Institute to discuss, among other things, Amazon, competition law, and policy priorities to address growing monopoly power. The panel was moderated by CNN Journalist Lydia DePillis, and also featured Roosevelt Institute Research Director Marshall Steinbaum, University of Maryland Professor Frank Pasquale, and The Myth of Capitalism co-author Denise Hearn. On the panel, Stacy discusses Amazon’s dominant platform power, and adds important context to the company’s recent $15 minimum wage hike announcement. Watch a recording of the event here.
News Stories We’re Following
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