Jan Jaśkiewicz was a successful small grocer in Białystok, Poland, a city of about 300,000. When Poland became a capitalistic nation again in the late 1980s, Jaśkiewicz was among the early entrepreneurs. In the late 1990s, multi-national grocery chains from across Europe began building new, large stores on the outskirts of most Polish cities, including Białystok. In early summer 2000, a few days before the case begins, local independent grocers had been called together by Lewiatan, a Polish wholesale grocer. Lewiatan could offer the smaller grocers the advantages of the chains: bulk buying, Lewiatan-branded goods, slotting fees, and cooperative advertising. The local grocers liked many of the benefits Lewiatan would bring, but were suspicious and wanted someone they knew to be the area representative before they would agree to join Lewiatan. They had called a second meeting to try and find someone to fill the role. Jaśkiewicz was a natural choice: he had been in both the retail and wholesale grocery business, had been in business longer than almost everyone else, and was well-respected. Jan was tempted. Not only did he want to grow his own business, he wanted other Poles to be successful business owners and felt that if he could help Lewiatan, Lewiatan could help others compete with the new, large, foreign-owned and professionally-managed stores.
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