Business: Border Boom

The streets of Laredo are a smugglers' paradise

Most American merchants were happy when their sales volume just kept ahead of inflation in 1978, but those in Laredo, Texas really had a banner year. Their sales will probably be a record $470 million—or more than $6,000 for every one of Laredo's 76,900 residents. Pretty impressive for a border town where per capita income is only $3,575, one of the lowest in the country.

If Laredo's storekeepers had to depend on the locals for patronage, they would starve. Nearly all of their customers are Mexicans who cross the border to buy American, European and...

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