If you run a supermarket in a town where Wal-Mart wants to expand into the grocery business -- and if you want to do everything in your power to prevent or delay that expansion -- there's someone who can help.
Saint Consulting Group, which jokingly refers to its staff as "Wall Mart Killers," will send in experts to create what looks like local, grass-roots opposition, this morning's WSJ reports. They often work under assumed names.
Staff members use multiple phones to call local politicans, to make it look like the calls are coming from a variety of sources. They hire lawyers and land-use experts. And they train the local opposition, including staff of existing grocery stores, about things like the most effective way to speak at public hearings.
Saint Consulting doesn't always fight Wal-Mart, and sometimes it works in support of developments. The company has conducted about 1,500 campaigns, and about 500 of those have been to block a development, the WSJ says. Most of the opposition campaigns have been clandestine.
Just over half of Wal-Mart's $258 billion in U.S. revenue came from grocery sales last year, according to the article.
"We protect clients from unwanted competition," Saint Consulting says on its Web site. "We invented this specialty service. No company is as versed in land-use politics as The Saint Consulting Group."