Edward L. Bernays
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Carl R. Byoir
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1937
The Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company

Just as Ivy Lee convinced Vanderbilt to change his famous statement "the public be damned" to "the public be informed," Carl Byoir encouraged the Hartford brothers not to close their doors without a fight.

Carl Byoir & Associates was hired on October 1, 1937 to repeal or modify the anti-chain store tax laws. Byoir worked to stop the pending chain store tax in the New York State legislature. If the bill passed, there would be a $2 million dollar price tag for A&P and each of the 2,000 stores in New York would have had to pay $1,000 under the new bill. Using his third-party approach, Byoir rallied farm and consumer organizations to tell their representatives they did not want the bill. Byoir created so much support to throw out the bill that it never went beyond committee.

During public opinion research, Byoir discovered a paradox in the mindset of A&P patrons. Through the newly established research format of opinion polling, Byoir found most of A&P's customers favored higher taxes for chain stores, but they were unaware such taxes would increase the cost of their food. By releasing this information to key groups, Byoir began his fight against the national chain store tax.

Carl Byoir showed legislators who were facing re-election campaigns that even though it seemed constituents supported the tax and only a few hundred chain stores were against the bill. The real issue was the families who would be affected if A&P closed.

In the end, one-by-one, the states began to repeal their chain store taxes and on June 19, 1940, a congressional subcommittee rejected the proposed national tax. Two years later, controversy followed when a Federal Grand Jury returned an indictment of A&P and Carl Byoir for violating sections 1 & 2 of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1890.


CARL R. BYOIR - A RETROSPECTIVE
Introduction / 1903-1912 / 1913-1919 / 1920-1930 / 1931-1932 / 1933-1936
1937-1952 / Home