Chain stores are retail outlets that share a brand and central management, and usually have standardized business methods and practices. Before considered a chain, stores must meet a litmus test; it must have more than 2 units under the same brand and have a central headquarters, otherwise it offers franchise contracts or is publicly traded.()These characteristics also apply to chain restaurants and some service-oriented chain businesses. In retail, dining, and many service categories, chain businesses have come to dominate the market in many parts of the world. A franchise retail establishment is one form of chain store.
The displacement of independent businesses by chains has sparked increased collaboration among independent businesses and communities to prevent chain proliferation. These efforts include community-based organizing through Independent Business Alliances (in the U.S. and Canada) and "buy local" campaigns. In the U.S., trade groups such as the American Booksellers Association and American Specialty Toy Retailers do national promotion and advocacy. NGOs like the New Rules Project and New Economics Foundation provide research and tools for pro-independent business education and policy while the American Independent Business Alliance provides direct assistance for community-level organizing.