In a debate with Russ Roberts, Bill McKibben made the point that not allowing Walmart, as a big box retailer, into some Vermont towns came at a cost of $58 per person. I appreciate the intellectual honesty and clarity of what came next, he said, this is a cost I find very worth bearing. I wished other scholars would be so honest.
But this observation got me to thinking. What if instead of a massive mega-store, Walmart decided to try to compete in these small towns by opening a chain of stores called “Small-Mart?” And that prices and selection at Smallmart were better than at the mom and pop stores, and that the Smallmart stores were greener than the mom and pop alternatives. Would Smallmart still be rejected? My biases tell me yes, but I really would like to hear from folks that have thought sincerely about this.