Back in the 1920s, several independent family-owned grocery-store owners, facing stiff competition from burgeoning nationwide chains such as A&P, formed a union that would give them the same buying power and marketing exposure as their deep-pocketed competitors. That was IGA.

In later years, independent hardware-store owners found that they could stand up to the threat posed by Home Depot and Lowe's by affiliating with co-ops like Ace Hardware and True Value.

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