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OCA Protest Outside Washington, D.C. Launches Breaking the Chains Campaign Against Wal-Mart & Brand Bullies
Nov. 11, 2005

A mega ONo'

Wal-Mart protestors plan rally at Kingstowne store this weekend

*By JOHN H. ARUNDEL* Alexandria Times (Virginia)

The national backlash against the mega-retailer Wal-Mart will put one of its Alexandria locations at the forefront this weekend, as protestors from the group "Breaking The Chain" plan to stage a massive protest at its Kingstowne store on Sunday.

The protest will feature street theater and a picket designed to educate the chain's shoppers about what it calls the "harmful impact" that the "big box" store has on local businesses, the environment and labor standards here and abroad.

The protest is part of its Nov. 13-19 international week of protests against the mega-retailer.

"We are asking consumers to question the products they are purchasing and demand that the stores they frequent carry organic, local, and Fair Trade or Fair Made alternatives," said Ronnie Cummins, executive director of the Organic Consumers Association, which launched the campaign.

Cummins noted that consumer, environmental, labor and independent business groups have organized events at over 1,000 locations across the country.

Wal-Mart, which controls about 20 percent of grocery store sales in the United States, has recently announced that it intends to become the dominant retail force in organic products.

This is troubling to organic consumers and farmers, given the company's notoriety for driving down prices to producers and selling low-grade products at discount prices, Cummins argues.

"Wal-Mart is the nation's leader of suburban sprawl, poverty wages and gender discrimination," he said. "Local, independent businesses are a community's best bet for long-term prosperity."

* Anti-corporate*
The week of protests is being held in conjunction with "High
Expectations: A National Week of Protest Against Wal-Mart" and other anti-corporate, pro-local, sustainable and fair trade events occurring around the country next week.

Cummins said the campaign is an attempt to focusing consumer's attention on how each purchasing decision can lead to a "safer, greener, and more equitable society."

The group has dubbed December as "Buy Local Month," hoping to encourage consumers to buy local from the day after Thanksgiving through December, typically the busiest month of the year for retail stores.

Wal-Mart Stores said it plans to open between 270 and 280 super centers next year < a 12 percent increase over the super centers the company said it plans to open this year.

Globally, the chain said it plans to add 60 million square feet of gross retail space, an 8% increase from this year's square-footage growth, according to Supermarket News.

The protest will be held on Sunday, Nov. 13 from noon to 6 p.m. on the sidewalk near its entrance at 5800 Kingstowne Blvd. in Alexandria. A Wal-Mart spokesman could not be reached for comment.