‘Wal-Mart’s #1 Enemy’ Joins Direct Co-ops to Create First Independent Network for Small Businesses


TORONTO/BOSTON—Small Business activists in Canada and the U.S. are joining forces to fight for a level playing field for local merchants under attack from huge retail companies like Amazon, Walmart, Facebook and Google. Direct Co-ops, Al Norman and Canada’s top broadcaster Steve Anthony announced today the creation of the Direct Local Business Network (DLBN), which will produce podcasts and disseminate news stories via social media with a focus on the small businesses that power the economy, and the conglomerates who are seeking to destroy them.

Al Norman is the founder of Sprawl-Busters, a clearinghouse on big box sprawl issues, and an author/land use consultant who has guided hundreds of communities around the world fighting corporations like Wal-Mart and Amazon. Forbes magazine called Norman “Wal-Mart’s #1 Enemy”. He first stopped a Wal-Mart in his hometown of Greenfield, MA in 1993. Over the past 26 years, he has become known internationally as a citizen-activist and author who helps small towns fight off big retail developers, including an appearance on 60 Minutes, which called Norman the “Guru of the anti -Wal-Mart movement.”. “You can’t buy small town quality of life on any shelf at Walmart,” Norman said. “But once you lose it, you can’t buy it back at any price”.

Norman’s website, http://www.sprawl-busters.com, with more than 4,000 site fight stories going back to 1998, is the largest collection of stories of local big box battles on the internet. His first book, Slam Dunking Wal-Mart: How You Can Stop Superstore Sprawl, has become a classic for neighborhood groups, and his second book, The Case Against Wal-Mart was released in 2004.  Both books have been translated into different languages. His latest book, Occupy Walmart, was published in 2012. This book is a collection of essays written for The Huffington Post.

Norman was featured in the PBS documentary Store Wars, about one Virginia town’s battle against Wal-Mart;  ITVS film Talking to the Wall; served as a consultant for the movie High Cost of Low Price; was featured in the Our Town movie in Damariscotta, Maine, and in the Canadian movie Wal-Mart Nation.  He appeared on Penn & Teller’s show, NBC Nightly News, ABC’s Nightline, The Wall Street Journal Report, CNBC Steals & Deals, among others and has been written up in Time Magazine, The Boston Globe and many others.

The new strategic network DLBN will focus on stories about the “voodoo economics” of the superstore chains, and how monopolistic retail giants are smothering smaller merchants who operate at the local level. Three out of four employers in the U.S. are ‘micro businesses’ with less than 10 employees. “Their voice and their struggles are as critical to our future as anything the Big Box and Online Retailers have to say”, Norman noted.

Toronto-based Direct Global / Direct Co-ops has been working to strengthen the clout of small and medium-sized businesses. Direct Global / Direct Co-ops has already created a group-buying platform and marketplace online for small and medium businesses and co-ops, bringing together local independent businesses to leverage their group buying power, enabling them to achieve better prices on all their purchases. “We’re adding DLBN to small business offerings,” explained CEO Ahmed Attia.  “Small merchants need a big voice, and we will concentrate on stories that amplify that voice”. The work of Direct Global / Direct Co-ops allows small retailers to enjoy the same buying power as the big chains and online retailers, stimulating the local communities and economies to level the playing field for our ‘Mom and Pop’ shops.

Award-winning Canadian Broadcaster Steve Anthony, who is the Head of Media and Public Relations at Direct Global / Direct Co-ops, will help produce and co-host a series of podcasts with Norman from Sprawl-Busters that will highlight breaking retail news, along with headline newsmaker interviews of interest to small businesses and community activists. “Supporting these small businesses is what first attracted me to Direct Co-ops”, Anthony said. “Our Direct Local Business Network will help Mom and Pops in hometowns everywhere keep informed and updated on retail, with a consumer/merchant slant”. Podcasts are expected to go into production this spring.

Direct Global / Direct Co-ops is a strategic partner with the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council (CWEIC), which has a mandate from Commonwealth Heads of Government to promote intra-Commonwealth trade, investment and the role of the private sector.

Direct Global / Direct Co-ops is joined by the largest business associations, co-ops, nonprofit and government institutions, dedicated to supporting independent business and entrepreneurship and the voice of mom and pop businesses everywhere. Direct Global / Direct Co-ops has developed the most technologically advanced eCommerce platform available on the market today.