Gilding The Wal Mart

Did U.S. small businesses get shortchanged by the U.S. Mint? So says Representative Ike Skelton (D-Mo.), who recently took issue with the Mint's exclusive deal with Wal-Mart Stores. The $165 billion retail giant was given early distribution rights to the new $1 Sacagawea gold coin, leaving many small companies feeling jilted, especially as the unexpectedly popular coin helped bring in extra foot traffic to Wal-Mart stores.

The Treasury Dept.'s decision "ignores the thousands of outstanding small businesses who create job opportunities for all Americans," Skelton wrote to Mint director Philip N. Diehl. Although Diehl says Wal-Mart should be commended for "taking a bet on this," he promises to give small companies "the same opportunities" to distribute the coin.

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