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The Globalization Trilogy Series
Store Wars
When Wal-Mart Comes to Town

Looks at the impact on a small town when Wal-Mart plans to build a mega-store there.

A printer-friendly version of this page 59 minutes
Closed Captioned

Produced by Micha X. Peled, Teddy Bear Films
Associate Producer: Monica Z. Lam
Edited by Ken Schneider
Photographed by Allen Moore
Produced in association with the Independent Television Service, with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting

"A fascinating study in community action." Julie Salamon, New York Times
In the US, Wal-Mart opens a new mega-store every two business days. This is the story of the impact of discount chain stores on American towns and cities, and on our society as a whole.

STORE WARS follows events in Ashland, VA, over a one-year period, from the first stormy public hearing that galvanizes residents' opposition till the Town Council takes a final vote on the proposed Wal-Mart store. Arguments for the store (tax revenues, low prices, jobs) and against it (destroys small town character, traffic, low-end jobs) are articulated and hotly debated. The cast of characters includes the mayor and Town Council members who will eventually make the decision, Wal-Mart representatives and the "Pink Flamingos," the grassroots citizen group opposed to the store.

STORE WARS does not single out Wal-Mart, but rather highlights its position as the icon of the Big Box industry. While offering a critical view of this industry, the film presents fairly all viewpoints on this controversial issue.

STORE WARS is the first film in Micha X. Peled's Globalization Trilogy. Store Wars: When Wal-Mart Comes to Town focuses on consumption in the U.S., and China Blue investigates the manufacturing of the clothes we all consume. Bitter Seeds looks at the raw materials. It goes to India and follows the farmers growing the cotton exported to China's garment factories to be used for the clothes sold in the West. Each film explores a deeper layer of the production-consumption chain.

Grade Level: 7-12, College, Adult
US Release Date: 2001     Copyright Date: 2001
DVD ISBN: 1-59458-111-8     VHS ISBN: 1-56029-903-7

"This film, with a suspense and narrative abillity unusual in a documentary, tells with exceptional precision and humour about the battle of a typical small, prosperous and tranquil little town against the arrival of a giant."
Buenos Aires International Film Festival Program

"This excellent program uses a David vs. Goliath scenario -- small-town citizens versus corporate behemoth -- to offer an engaging rendering of a placid community enlivened by political action."
Julie Salamon, New York Times

"The video provides a human perspective that is missing from textbooks. It's very well researched and balanced. I look forward to using it in my classes."
A. Bruce Dotson, Chair, Department of Urban and Environmental Planning, University of Virginia

"The year-long battle roughly reflects a larger cultural clash between homespun American values and cold corporate homogeneity...Palpable drama and suspense as a lame-duck Town Council gathers for its vote."
San Francisco Chronicle

"This story has been told in towns across the United States for many years, but rarely has it been told with as much clarity and verve."
Tim Feran, Columbus Dispatch

"A documentary about a town's struggle with the concepts of preservation and change -- it is a dramatic tale, and one with a true cliffhanger ending...Store Wars is a primer for social activism, a handbook for any David thinking of taking on a Goliath."
Business Week

"What chance does a small town have in a battle against a huge corporation? This engrossing film details the animosity and taut political intrigue sparked by Wal-Mart's saturation retail strategy in an unenthusiastic community."
Timothy McGettigan, Professor of Sociology, University of Southern Colorado

"Store Wars takes you inside the grassroots politics of Ashland, Virginia, and inside a campaign by Wal-Mart to overpower the town. It is not pretty, but it lays out why Wal-Mart has become the most reviled corporation in America today."
Al Norman, Sprawl-Busters

"[Store Wars] would be very useful for classroom use in courses in globalization, urban anthropology, or social movements, as well as in other disciplines like political science or sociology. Clearly this is not the usual journalistic approach, in which filmmakers invade a town and, in a short time, expect to capture all sides of the argument. They painstakingly saw through this process for a year, and were allowed to record scenes from which other outsiders may have been barred. In an era when globalization is rampant and multinationals enjoy increasing government support, the documentary video could not be more timely."
Helen Safa, Anthropology of Work Review

Select your institution type

PBS broadcast web site
Al Norman's Sprawl-Busters web site
Study guide

Awards and Festivals
Golden Gate Award, San Francisco International Film Festival
Gold Plaque, Chicago International Television Competition
CINE Golden Eagle
Bronze Plaque Award, Columbus International Film & Video Festival
Jury Citation, New Jersey International Film Festival
Singapore International Film Festival
South by Southwest Film Festival
Dallas Video Festival
IMAGE Atlanta Film & Video Festival
Magnolia Film Festival
Port Townsend Film Festival
Hazel Wolf Environmental Film Festival
Conscientious Projector Film Festival
Environmental Film Festival in the Nation's Capital

American Studies
Business Practices
Citizenship and Civics
Local Economies
Urban Studies
Urban and Regional Planning

Related Titles

China Blue
A clandestinely shot, deep-access account of how the clothes we buy are actually made.

Bitter Seeds
The final film in Micha X. Peled's Globalization Trilogy examines the epidemic of suicides amongst India's cotton farmers, deeply in debt after switching to genetically modified seeds.

Save Our Land, Save Our Towns
Examines the causes and effects of -- and then remedies for -- suburban sprawl.

Subdivide and Conquer
Suburban sprawl: causes and remedies.

Livable Landscapes
How growth and sprawl affect the quality of life in New England, and some possible solutions.

Chávez Ravine
Don Normark's haunting photographs bring back to life a Mexican American village razed in the 1950s to build Dodger Stadium.

The Air We Breathe
Connects asthma and other respiratory diseases with air pollution and suburban sprawl.

Possum's Rest
Can humans and wildlife co-exist in the suburbs?

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