Twenty-five years ago, the prospects of independent supermarkets looked rosy, at least to Forbes magazine. "In an era when the mom-and-pop store has been vanishing in most businesses, independent supermarkets have more than held their own against chain competition," a 1977 article declared. However, by the end of the 1990s, the outlook for independents was decidedly grim. During that decade, the number of independent stores declined nearly 20% to about 11,200, and their market share fell ...

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