• U.S.

Business: Chain Stores Attacked

2 minute read

The crisis chain store operators have feared, developed last week. The Senate passed a resolution calling upon the Federal Trade Commission to study how useful chain systems are, how bad, how they work.

Antagonism to the “chain” has already shown itself in four states. North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia legislatures ordered special taxes on chain stores. In Maryland, a law was passed forbidding anyone to own more than five stores in the county of Cumberland. Although North Carolina and Maryland courts have declared their laws unconstitutional, although South Carolina has made no attempt to enforce hers, although Georgia courts have granted a temporary injunction restraining enforcement—the passage of such laws has caused chain store operators to stir themselves defensively.

Last week’s Senate resolution created a crisis around which John A. Hartford, reticent head of the biggest of food chains (the great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. of America) somersaulted. He has eschewed being quoted in print; he had succeeded almost wholly in keeping himself out of print.

But faced with Federal investigation, he could no longer be silent. He had been, figuratively, smoked out. He spoke at length and to the following point: “We have nothing to fear … if sufficient reasons appear to justify an inquiry into the industry as a whole, our company would welcome it.”

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