The Magazine

The Big Store

The mythology of small business meets a retailing giant.

Apr 29, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 31 • By JAY WEISER
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Over the course of 150 years, Joseph Schumpeter’s “creative destruction” worked. But along the way, under the guise of protecting small businesses, rent-seeking interests used regulation in a successful assault on consumer living standards. Today, anti-chain legislation dresses in the yuppie garb of land-use regulation, such as San Francisco’s Proposition G (2006) restricting chains outside the downtown core. So while the Financial Times’s mystery shopper admires “a black and yellow slash-neck, batwing-sleeved blouse with a contrasting Chinese garden scene on one-half for $920” in Hayes Valley, San Francisco’s beleaguered working class can either schlep to Union Square or annihilate its paychecks in the neighborhood boutiques.

Jay Weiser is associate professor of law at Baruch College.