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An organizational ecology approach to new food marts in New York City neighbourhoods

Jacqueline Olvera and Stacey A. Sutton

International Journal of Urban Sciences, 2021, vol. 25, issue 2, 252-271

Abstract: Global forces have disrupted local businesses across cities, but neighbourhood convenience stores and small grocery stores have proven to be resilient in the face of economic and institutional pressures. In this paper, we integrate urban retail and organizational ecology perspectives and examine small independently-owned convenience and grocery stores, colloquially referred to as food marts, as organizational populations that develop and persist in neighbourhoods across multiple decades. Drawing on data from the National Establishment Time Series database and the Decennial Census, we argue that a nonlinear relationship exists between the number of existing food marts and the emergence of new food marts. Furthermore, we examine how conditions such as the presence of chain stores, neighbourhood socio-economic conditions and ethno-racial composition affect the likelihood that new food marts will emerge in neighbourhoods. Our results show that the emergence of new food marts in neighbourhoods is strongly influenced by the existing number of similar firm types. In other words, we find that competition among new food marts strongly predicts the extent to which small food marts remain in neighbourhoods. The value our study is that we look beyond the individual firm and ask whether the entire population is at risk, for example when chain stores are present.

Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1080/12265934.2020.1804988

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