Fasten your seatbelts


Out and about / Friday, April 12th, 2013

Ah. More information has been discovered about our test-tube stores.

Store A is the largest store in town, and nine times out of ten offers the lowest prices. Store A is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Handy! The aisles are clean, the workers efficient. Store A extends forgiving return policies, matches coupons, and carries the five other items I need—Band-Aids, black dress pants, votive candles, mint tea, and sugar snap peas.

Store B is closed on Sundays. One of my friends worked there once. If you don’t have your receipt, you probably can’t return it. Store B runs good sales and works hard to be competitive–but generally speaking, name brands are expensive here; store brands taste like cardboard. The cashiers are sweet, conversing in loud voices over your head (with each other) while they’re ringing you up.

Now what do you think?

Eggs are still 99 cents at A, $1.49 at B.

*****

News flash from Meadville, Pennsylvania: More information is forthcoming.

Store A pays thousands of production workers three dollars a day for ten hours spent in overcrowded factories. From this stipend, rent is deducted for sleeping quarters in under-ventilated dormitories nearby—deducted, whether or not employees sleep there.

Do you care? Does it matter?

Anyway, that only happens all the way over in China.

In America, Store A only puts their workers through “boot camp” (quote from a worker I know)—intense pressure to perform and deliver. If you’re on the job, you’re sweating. Store A prohibits labor unions, requires their employees to work off the clock, and pays the kind of wages that require additional thousands of their workers to rely on government assistance for food stamps and healthcare. The cost to society is huge. But hey, they sell eggs for 99 cents a dozen.

Does it matter to you?

Store A crowds out local mom-and-pop businesses in hundreds and thousands of cities across the country. Store A is bigger and better; people flock to its bargains. Store A fattens the wallets of four of the ten richest people in America, whose last name happens to be Walton.

Does it matter?

Store B is one of those mom-and-pop businesses I mentioned, 40 years running, owned and managed by a local Baptist couple.

Does it matter?

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rosanna
9 years ago

Store A pays less for the eggs. They tell the producer what they will pay it is up to the producer to figure out how to produce and still make a profit. It isn’t fair to Store B that Store A’s buying power allows them to sell eggs for less than store B pay for them. I will shop at store B, because i don’t agree with the business practices of Store A which allow them to be the cheapest place around. $1.49 is a fair price for eggs. Actually it’s rather low. Purchasing at the hypothetical store B puts food on my neighbor’s tables (employees of store B and producers who sell to store B) as well as my own.

Bethrusso
9 years ago

Actually, yes it matters a lot to me. My husband works for a grocery chain in the Midwest and those Store A’s are putting smaller stores out of business all over. However, I can see the side of the money-strapped consumer in wanting to save some money wherever possible. I can only do my part and keep shopping at the Store B’s. I also don’t like how the employees are treated at A, and sometimes, especially in small towns, there is no other place to work. I used to have the, ‘Well they don’t have to work there!’ attitude but that’s naive because they do have to pay the bills and put food on the table, so are taking a job where they can get one. Tough, tough situation and a very good post!

rosanna
9 years ago
Reply to  Bethrusso

and the only reason they don’t have another place to work is because store A put all the B stores out of business. Oh, wait a minute, the people who stopped shopping at store B put store B out of business.

Mama Zook
9 years ago

thanks, Shari, for having us fasten our seat belt! I do agree with helping mom and pop stay in business and pay their employees a fair wage, and making enough to keep their business going. BTW, if you buy fresh farm eggs from the farm in Oregon you’ll pay above $2. a dozen, because they truly are fresh! At the farmer’s market they’ll be $4. a dozen, but the price is higher to help the farmer truck them to town (more convenient for the city dweller than going out to pick them up) Perspective! Guess that’s why I’m excited about selling my business to another farmer’s market vendor, and she’ll continue to make my products available to those who love the markets!

Rachel S
9 years ago

The most searching question you asked is…”do you care?” Most of the time, shopping for eggs is only one small item on my long list of errands to run in town, which falls in line somewhere at the bottom of my day’s HUGE “to do” list. Since we’re talking the SAME quality eggs, I’m afraid I have to admit I just don’t care. Well, I might feel a twinge of remorse, but convenience will likely win. I just want to get the eggs and get on to the next thing as fast as possible. It’s interesting you posted this, because it echoes my own soul searching lately, in some other areas. I can try to say I didn’t know, but really it comes down to… Why do I not care enough to know, and then, enough to change?

Kim
9 years ago

I care more now in my life than I ever have..for various reasons. Being informed has made me more of a conscious shopper. Saving money isn’t everything.
When my chocolate loving 10 year old daughter gave up eating chocolate because she had researched how it was made and various other info, it opened my eyes to be more aware….
You can’t beat a mom and pop store…in my opinion, though I shop occasionally at the others.
This was good food for thought. Thanks for writing.