This study examines the impact of retailer equity (specifically image and familiarity dimensions) on the cognitive processes employed by consumers receiving varying levels of strength of negative word of mouth (WOM) about retail entities. The main thesis is that retailer equity and the type of negative WOM received will interact to affect receivers' attributional processing and attitudes. Results support these contentions: the image and familiarity dimensions of retailer equity have interactive effects on consumers' processing of negative WOM. These findings suggest that when consumers formulate communicator attributions for the negativity of the WOM, retail store image plays a more significant role than familiarity. However, these effects are not found for store attributions. Managerial implications are discussed. © 2007 M.E. Sharpe, Inc. All rights reserved.