Posted by: Don Bemis | December 24, 2011

Competition

I got 32 copies of Dead Aggies Don’t Drive Trains from the local print shop last Wednesday.  It was supposed to be fifty, but the printer wasn’t satisfied and wanted to work on one of his machines before he did the rest.  I only got the ones that passed inspection.  I like working with people like that.  Now there are two paper versions available:  one on-line, and one from yours truly.

I also finally figured out how to upload to Nook.  A couple of posts back discussed Amazon’s offer that would have kept me from doing so.

A local grocer has obtained enough petition signatures to force a referendum on a zoning change that allows Meijer to build a store in town.  I was on the City Council that approved the change.  Although I’m no fan of box stores, there is something called restraint of trade.  If you tell a business you won’t let them do something that is allowed by law, and especially if you let a similar business do the same thing a few years earlier, you are restraining trade.  In this case, the similar business was Wal-Mart.  Yes, it was hard on smaller stores.  Some people dislike Wal-Mart so much, they’ll drive twenty miles to a Meijer store in another town to do their shopping.

The grocer contends that Meijer will kill downtown stores and run other businesses out, reducing local tax revenue from newly vacant properties.  South Haven used to have four grocery stores.  This grocer eventually wound up owning three of them and closed the two within the city limits (including one downtown).  He expanded the remaining store right outside the city limits where taxes are lower, and included a bakery, pharmacy, coffee shop, video store, and gas station with its own convenience store, pizza and sub shop, oil change and car wash.  All of these compete against similar businesses that he doesn’t own, and now at least some of them will compete against Meijer unless the referendum passes.

He has a nice store, and I expect we will continue shopping there.  However, we buy most of our bread, meat, and produce directly from local farmers.  My coffee beans come from a downtown shop that buys directly from Honduran farmers at a higher than fair trade rate, and from other fair trade sources.  Directly purchased Nicaraguan coffee also is locally available.  Our last Thanksgiving dinner was nearly 100% local, except for milk and tea.  I don’t expect a new Meijer to change those spending habits.

The grocer is a nice guy and supports the community.  He gave one of his vacant properties to the hospital, and they converted it into a top-notch wellness and rehabilitation center that helps keep them in the black.  That was not good news for some of the smaller health clubs.

Where does one draw the line?  Maybe one doesn’t.

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