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Wal-Mart, stung by critics who say it puts local businesses out of business, is experimenting with giving some space in their own Chicago area stores to local fast food, barbers, manicurists and such, and also sell some local products, as a way to show opponents in the City of Chicago that it is “local business friendly.” Critics call it the equivalent of “sharecropping.” While I can see that Wal-Mart may consider their new program to be good community relations, it strikes me as what it is — tokenism. And the public relations fall-out may make the initiative a net negative for Wal-Mart’s reputation and acceptability.

December 2009
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