Antitrust: After the Marathon

In the postwar shift in U.S. grocery shopping from small corner stores to giant supermarkets, no chain grew more aggressively than Chicago-based National Tea Co. From its position as a middle-sized Midwestern chain in the 1940s, National spread south as far as New Orleans and west to Denver, absorbed 22 smaller chains with 485 stores in 16 states. The acquisitions helped double sales, made National stores the fifth largest U.S. grocery chain, with $1.2 billion sales last year from 941 stores. Last week, after a marathon investigation, the Federal Trade Commission voted 4-1 that National, between 1951 and 1958,...

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