PHILADELPHIA -- One customer likened the store to "a Taj Mahal in the middle of Beirut." He was referring to one of the three Brown's Thriftways here, all located in rundown, underserved inner-city neighborhoods. Brown's stores are part of the 61-member Thriftway/Shop and Bag advertising group sponsored by the Oaks, Pa., division of Fleming Cos., Oklahoma City. All three appear to be succeeding in their urban niche, despite the blighted conditions and poverty that surround them. According ...

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