California cities wanting to ban so-called big-box stores such as Wal-Mart have a new and powerful weapon in their arsenal — and they have the residents of the small city of Hanford, Calif., to thank.

The California Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously upheld the constitutionality of a Hanford ordinance that prohibits small stores from selling furniture in one commercially zoned district. But while the ruling technically favors large retail stores, attorneys on both sides of the case say it gives cities more authority to block unwanted businesses of any size.

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