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2001-12-28
Mill Valley, CA. The Osgood File On Sprawl-Busters

The American Communications Foundation, based in Mill Valley, California, recently provided me with a copy of "The Osgood File" radio show, with Charles Osgood, from November 23, 2001:

OSGOOD: Today is one of the biggest shopping days of the year. Shopping patterns have changed in this country. A lot of little stores have been eaten up by the huge megastores. But there's an outfit called Sprawl-Busters that's trying to encourage small stores across the country to defend themselves.

NORMAN: We're actually giving people the forks and knives they need to cut into these companies for the first time.

OSGOOD: In 1993, Al Norman stopped Wal-Mart from coming to his hometown of Greenfield, Massachusetts. He led a grassroots campaign to overturn a city council vote allowing Wal-Mart to build a superstore.

NORMAN: We anticipated fully that we would lose. Wal-Mart comes to town with their lawyer, their architect, their traffic engineer and their other 'suits' and experts. They have a tremendous leverage power over the process.

OSGOOD: But Norman won. He then founded Sprawl-Busters to educate other townspeople on how to stop these megastore retailers. He publishes a newsletter, hosts a website, and does on-site consulting.

NORMAN: What we're doing, really, is being a clearinghouse on data and information for people, and its surprising how many people are desperate for this.

OSGOOD: Norman doesn't like megastores very much, to put it mildly.

NORMAN: They're the Great American Dust Machine. They're grinding through small town America and turning the small mom and pop retailer into dust.

OSGOOD: Wal-Mart doesn't see it that way,of course.

ALLEN: If Wal-Mart, or other large retailers, were somehow bad for small businesses, why are there so many that are being created?

OSGOOD: Senior Vice President Jay Allen...

ALLEN: We are just about everywhere, because people want us to be everywhere -- we wouldn't be there if they didn't.

OSGOOD: Well, what we're doing is transparent, says Norman.

NORMAN: What I'm trying to do is to train communities how to use their zoning code or amend their zoning code, to really reflect their desire of how they want to see their community grow.

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"Norman has become the guru of the anti-Wal-Mart movement" ~ 60 Minutes

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