Letter: Some things are more important than a greater selection and less cost
It is not a habit of mine to write a "Letter to the Editor." However, I am very concerned about the small businesses in our county that have been forced to compete with the larger chain stores.
I understand the arguments for dealing with the chains—primarily lower costs and greater selection. Recently, however, I believed that a new refrigerator was in my future since my 20-year-old bottom freezer was puddling water in the bottom. Thinking a chain store would offer a better selection and a cheaper price, I shopped but decided not to rush into such a major purchase but to check with the store in Mathews that sold the refrigerator to my mother 20 years earlier.
I explained the problem I was having and began looking at what I thought I’d need, but the proprietor suggested that I consider repairing the one that I had. It was repaired the following day and is doing fine at a minimal cost to me. The store could have sold me a new model at $1,400 (cheaper than the one I looked at in the chain store). I ask myself what would have been the outcome of my shopping if my mother had purchased from a chain 20 years earlier, and now had to deal with the problem? Would I have felt right about asking someone to fix something that he had not sold? Would the chain from which the refrigerator was purchased 20 years earlier care about the cost to me now? What would have been the result if I had not chosen to wait?
More importantly, what would have happened if I had bought from the chain and my purchase had stopped working in a month? A year? Two years? Would there have been a solution at the chain to suggest that my old refrigerator could be fixed, and the store would send someone down the next day to make the necessary repairs?
Our local grocery store has had to lay off employees who have worked there for years because many of us patronize solely a chain that is based outside the United States or another store in a neighboring community because the prices are cheaper or the selection is better. These chain stores are interested only in the bottom line. In the chain store we are asked to donate a dollar for this or that cause and the causes are certainly worthwhile, but have we ever asked them for a donation to a cause that we support? The answer I always got was that it was not their policy. On the other hand, how many times has our local grocery donated to our favorite charity or supplied a product just because we asked? Sometimes there are some things more important than greater selections and a little less cost.
Of course I go to the chain stores, too, when I can’t find what I need or the local merchants can’t get what I need. Think how sad it will be if those with whom we have lived and worked and taken for granted are put out of business because they cannot afford to compete.
I know we must all save where we can in these tough times, but I am going to continue to try to help our local merchants when I can, and I hope that all of us will make a greater effort in that direction.
Port Haywood, Va.