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  • Knight Ridder reports that as Wal-Mart builds a new supercenter in Skiatook, Oklahoma, one local retailer is accusing it of not playing fair – and is going to court to make its point.

    Super H has filed suit in Osage County District Court charging Wal-Mart with “"corporate espionage stealing sensitive information from a competitor." The store says that Wal-Mart sent its employees into Super H to scan the bar codes on the store’s shelves – codes that, according to the store, will give Wal-Mart access to proprietary details about its business.

    The suit was filed after the police, having arrested the woman who worked for Wal-Mart and confiscated her hand-held scanner, declined to press trespassing charges. Super H wants the court to make sure the police department does not return the hand scanner to Wal-Mart, plus is looking for assurance that Wal-Mart stops the practice.

    Knight Ridder notes that “Wal-Mart has been accused before of surreptitiously scanning bar codes. In 2000, Crest Foods in Edmond ejected five Wal-Mart employees from its store for the same reason, an action that eventually led to a federal lawsuit accusing Wal-Mart of predatory pricing.

    It turned out that one of the ejected employees was David Glass, who had spent more than a decade as Wal-Mart's chief executive. The suit said Glass, offended by his treatment, ordered the local supercenter to drop its prices below cost to ruin Crest. Crest lawyers likened Wal-Mart's conduct to organized crime tactics seen on TV's ‘The Sopranos.’

    Crest and Wal-Mart later agreed on a dismissal of the lawsuit, suggesting a settlement had been reached.

  • The Grand Rapids Press reports that retail warfare is likely to break out in that market as Wal-Mart opens its first supercenter there today, a 186,000 square foot, 24-hour-a-day unit.

    Next door – a 207,000 square foot Meijer supercenter scheduled to open in late summer or early fall.

KC's View:
We already know the winner will be in Grand Rapids.

The consumers.

As for the Oklahoma situation, well, we can only imagine how Wal-Mart would react to one of its competitors using a hand scanner on its bar codes.

Now that might resemble an episode of “The Sopranos”…