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Big-Box Swindle: The True Cost of Mega-Retailers and the Fight for America's Independent Businesses

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating Details  ·  194 Ratings  ·  38 Reviews
A Book Sense Pick and Annual Highlight

With a New Afterword

In less than two decades, large retail chains have become the most powerful corporations in America. In this deft and revealing book, Stacy Mitchell illustrates how mega-retailers are fueling many of our most pressing problems, from the shrinking middle class to rising pollution and diminished civic engagement—and s
Paperback, 344 pages
Published October 1st 2007 by Beacon Press (first published January 1st 2006)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 495)
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Jun 25, 2008 Alyson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm not sure how anyone could shop at Walmart, or any big-box store, after reading this book. Once you peel back all of the stinky, rotten layers of how these corporations do business and how they destroy the fabric and identity of so many communities when they move into town, you realize how these stores really cost us all more in the long run, despite the seductive promise of low prices. Mitchell does an excellent job of systematically knocking down every argument in favor of big-box stores. N ...more
Growing up in Selma, I was aware of two different 'cities': one was a coherent downtown core that consisted of attractive if decaying and inactive buildings; the other was a twelve-mile stretch of parking lots, boxes, and neon signs running north of the city proper. We went downtown for the library and courthouse; we went down Highland Avenue for everything else. Millions of towns across the United States, but especially in the Southeast, have a similar brokenness. They were broken by shining li ...more
Jul 16, 2009 Brian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I try to get both sides of the story on issues and make up my mind based on the weight and validity of the arguments. For the opposing side to this book I looked at Penn & Teller's show Bullshit, and the episode they did on Walmart. Unfortunately Milt Friedman is dead so it is kind of hard to get a free market advocate that isn't over the top so they will have to do.

In summary here's their arguments for Walmart.

Walmart forces suppliers and competitors to be more efficient. That benefits Walm
May 29, 2015 Alice rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who wants to know why they should shop local
It's been a part of my upbringing, having grown up on Cape Cod, the daughter of mainstream hippies, that larger retailers are to be avoided, but I never really thought about why that might be; it was as fundamental a truth as exercise being good for me and junk food being bad. So I was already convinced of the message of this book when I read it: that big-box retailers do more harm to local (and the American) economy than they help. This book contains many, many examples and illustrations of why ...more
Jan 16, 2009 Becky rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was eye opening and inspired me to be much more conscious of where I'm spending my money, especially on everyday items. Unfortunately, it really depressed me and made me feel a little hopeless about the plight of small business owners, of which I am one.
With my new-found interest in being more supportive of the small time retailer. I went on vacation with my hubby to apple country (Sonoma) After researching a nice apple orchard and country store to visit while we were there, we pluncked do
Book Calendar
Sep 04, 2010 Book Calendar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 14, 2011 Helena rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Full disclosure: I stopped reading halfway through. I got the point, and it was too depressing to continue reading. But it contains lots of good information, and I'd recommend checking it out if this is a topic that interests you. I haven't been able to set foot in a Wal-Mart since reading this, which has forced me to seek out (local, where possible) alternatives to the very few things I had only been able to find there.

I would be interested to see how things have changed in the years since this
Jun 17, 2010 Oliver rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It took me a long time to get through this book, mostly because it made me really sad. The first 2/3 of the book (at least) is about all of the terrible consequences of big-box retail in the US. I can only read about small towns and city neighborhoods being destroyed by Wal-Mart so many times before I feel a little hopeless. However, I do think that these stories are important to hear. The last 1/3 of the book is more hopeful, describing ways that communities can fight back against corporate ret ...more
Aug 21, 2007 Joshua rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who shop at big-box retailers or those who refuse to
FUCK WAL-MART. I've always said that and I constantly read/watch reasons why that statement makes sense. I have never shopped at a Wal-Mart and I rather get punched in the face than do so. And I rather pay more money elsewhere...yup, I am an indie kind of guy. Good read, great facts, easy on the eyes, and once again Fuck Wal-Mart. Shopping there is just hurting everyone around you. SALES are founded on dead kittens, old peoples tears, and gun pointed at the working man. Eh...uhhh...just read the ...more
Oct 22, 2008 Mike rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book to be eye-opening as to some of the economic and social ills associated with "big box" chain stores. It definitely has me thinking about my own shopping preferences and how those might be changed. That said though, I believe that the author places too much of the blame for the problems she describes on the Big Box stores themselves. It seems to me that the big box retail phenomenon is as much a symptom of broader changes in our society over the past 60 years (or more) as it is ...more
Apr 02, 2015 Kate rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book made me so angry.
Nov 11, 2012 Caitlin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a hard book to finish, because it keeps nailing the same point harder and harder, with more and more depressing evidence. This book is very factual, with research to back up every single point, which is great, but at the same time, because of the topic, saddening. A good read for those who don't understand the horrible impact corporate America puts on the entire world. While depressing, there are also small glimmers of hope that we can make a change, and that we must make a change.
May 25, 2008 Jacob rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very well written and researched book that highlights many ways that large retailers gain an unfair advantage over small business owners. I worked at WAL*MART for a number of months and no know idea the many underhanded tricks they used to gain an advantage. Many of these tactics should be illegal are illegal in many states and other countries but WAL*MART uses it's clout to prevent laws from being enacted and to reverse laws that constrain it.
Aug 19, 2015 Jeanne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Half way through this one. If you like Naomi Klein, Jeremy Scahill, Chris Hedges and that lot, you'll like this. One thing: no mention of the Reverend Billy. Odd. Just watched 'Walmart, the high cost of low price' on DVD. That's good too.Anyway, Nat Overholtzer gave me this book and it's just terrific for many reasons. Interesting that included among the horror stories are examples of towns and local business areas that fought back and won.
Jul 23, 2007 Angel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I borrowed this one from the UHD Library. I liked it, and I also recommended it to my students, crossposting from my blog to the student resource blog I maintain. Wal-Mart and Big-Boxes are a popular freshman composition topic here, thus the recommendation.

Here is a link to the note I wrote about it in my personal blog:

Jan 10, 2009 dgw rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: society, business
I enjoyed the first part of the book more than the second part. Towards the end, I found it starting to get tedious and ended up skimming the last chapter and a half. (Then again, I'm just reading for fun, not doing research or anything.)

However, the whole thing is very well-researched, and I think is a worthwhile read, even if you just read the first half.
Aug 13, 2010 Sarah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another one I read for the article I'm working on. Has lots of good, yet disturbing information about how much of what we purchase is controlled by a few large retailers (primarily Wal-Mart). Definitely written with a bit of bias, but uses interviews and some research to support most contentions.
Sep 28, 2010 Leslie rated it liked it
"I liked it" doesn't quite cover what has to be said. It is a book that should be read, but not one that I looked forward to sitting and reading. While the last half shows that there are some bright spots to the appalling big-box takeovers throughout the world, it was a hard slog.
Jun 05, 2009 Adam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An important book to read and understand, unfortunately it's an easy book to put down unfinished. It's message felt a little repetitive to me, and I feel like it could have been condensed. Overall it significantly altered by purchasing habits. I would recommend it to everyone.
So far, this book has been a poignant critique of the big-box store boom in America, and what we are trading in order to shop at these stores: our local independent businesses, our greenspace, and our feeling of place. I'm only a few chapters in....
Feb 24, 2008 Trish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book forced me to think about my shopping habits. It is frustrating to be surrounded by big box stores, and to see small independent shops close. I will go out of my way to support a local business as a result of reading this book.
Every time a person mentions Amazon, Borders, or B&N, it makes me cringe. Running an independent bookstore in the 21st century is truly a labor of love. So this is not bedtime reading, it stirs me up too much to get a good night's sleep.
Jul 26, 2007 Katie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Big Box stores control our lives! Really - I was freaked out after reading this and vowed never to shop at any of the big stores - it worked for about a week. This book will make you think and maybe change your shopping habits.
Jul 24, 2009 Judy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Learned more than I wanted to know about the negative effect of big box stores;mainly Walmart, but also Home Depot, Lowes, etc. We need to maintain small independent stores to maintain community.
Jun 29, 2007 Shelley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I knew I shouldn't shop at chain stores like WalMart but I wasn't totally sure why. This lays out all the reasons and they are very convincing. It is very well researched and very interesting.
Dec 04, 2007 Pam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Got me not to shop at Target for about six months. I'm pretty good at avoiding other big boxes.

Seriously upsetting and convincing,

and well written
Clint Flatt
Apr 12, 2012 Clint Flatt rated it liked it
Shelves: business
Lots of statistics on how bad they are but not a lot on how to compete against them. Good book for community leaders, chamber of commerce, etc.
Dave Metge
Mar 09, 2008 Dave Metge rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, bd-s-best
want to know why we shop where we do? After reading this, I took a hard look at how I spend my money and no longer shop at places like Wal-Mart
Jan 12, 2008 Pattie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
You'll never look at Walmart or Home Depot the same way again. Shows how we subsidize these monstrosities, and how they rape our communities.
May 06, 2008 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is kind of a scary look at how a few very large corporations affect so many aspects of our lives.
(Not just Wal-Mart!)
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