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# my last question...

## Question

For a while...so let's make this count. Here is a personal favorite from our interview process.

Are there more McDonalds or Nationally chained grocery stores in a small town (let's assume that we are talking about America)? How much more? Provide support for your answer.

## 5 answers to this question

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I'd say it's even.

I live in a small town with one McDonald's and one ShopRite. Right next to each other, actually.

str[sR]ip strip

prkinglot MD

There's also an A&P a little ways away (like three minutes), but that's technically in the next town over.

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No other answers for this one?

More of a philosophical answer than anything else: it requires old-fashioned research. If they're asking about a generic small town without naming one in particular, then you can wikipedia to see there are about 13,700 nationally chained grocery stores in the US, compared to googling the number of McDonalds restaurants in the US which comes to a little over 14,000. So for an "average" small town the restaurants and grocery stores are about equal, but you're ever-so-slightly more likely to see more McD's. Or for bonus points you could look up the number of small towns in the US (if they tell you a cutoff for "small") and their populations, presume a Poisson distribution, and estimate the odds of finding N McD's and M grocery stores for any pair of (N, M). If they give you the name of a specific small town, then you'd have to get that town's phone book, or go there and count stores, or something along those lines.

Either way, I'd say the real answer to the question is that this is one that can't best be answered in a vacuum dealing with math.

Edited by plasmid

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The questions "are there more" and "how much more" really cannot be answered without defining "a small town".

The problem with looking at total number of grocery stores and total number of McD's is that you don't know the geographical distribution of the total quantity.

So, logically, let's consider the purpose of a grocery store compared to the purpose of a McDs. People go to grocery stores to buy enough food to last an extended period of time. So a typical small town consumer would be willing to drive an extended distance (say into a larger town) at a lower frequency to buy food to last a week, for example. So if I own a grocery store, I am going to put it where lots of people live (e.g. city center) and allow small towners to make the travel.

McDonald's on the other hand is design to provide 1 quick meal (per person). It would not make sense for a customer to travel a long distance to get to McDs, at least not on a regular basis. SO, if I own a McDs I would want to locate it EITHER where lots of people are centered (big city) OR where lots of people pass through, such as the side of a highway, acting as a sort of oasis to travelers.

So logically, a less populated town would be more likely to have a McD's because there are more people traveling through the town (looking for 1 meal) than there are people living in it (looking to stock up food).

Also,the question is restriced to chain grocery stores and, from observation, most small town grocery stores are locally owned.

However, I have no way to quantify my position.

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Or indeed indication of the town in the question beyond possibly somewhere in America.

If there is no MacDonalds it is considered to be too small to be classified as small

If it has more than one MacDonalds it is too large.

Therfore the definition of a small town is that there is one and only one MacDs

There is only one entity that owns a grocery store type on a national basis.

Therefore All grocery stores are nationally chained

Only a grocery store will sell groceries and anyone selling groceries is considered to be running a grocery store.

MacDonalds they must buy their groceries from somewhere as it would be illegal to rob them.

Therefore MacDonalds must purchase their products from a chained grocery store.

All this means is that provided MacDonalds buys locally there is at least one chained grocery store for every MacDonalds.
Given that other people buy groceries and not just MacDonalds at least in one small town there will be one MacDonalds and more than one grocery store.

Therefore there are more grocery stores (operated on a national basis) on average in towns with one and only one MacDonalds. As to how many more it depends entirely on proportions of home cooked meals to happy meals you end up eating.

Edited by phaze

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these are all very fine and well-argued answers. We ask this question at our work because of the vagueness in terms and lack of clarity of what we want to quantify. We are interested in learning how our potential employees build their argument and how they support (or would support if they had to go look for the information). We get some wild and rather funny answers beyond the well-articulated ones above. But I will have to reserve these responses for the joke section

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