Sunday, June 17, 2007

They paved paradise...

I took my father to dinner for father's day tonight and then we went to a movie ("Once" - it's a small, music-filled, lovely Irish film). Between the restaurant and the movie theater is a natural foods grocery store that we have been doing business with since Nicolas started farming. It is called Return to Eden and is owned by a wonderful couple. I went in tonight and talked to the owner before the movie. Josh looks thinner and more intense since the last time I saw him. I soon learned why. While it is a great thing that "organic" and "sustainable" and earth-friendly are concepts that are becoming popular, so much is being lost as the big daddy corporations see the profit to be gained in jumping on board the movement. Smaller stores, like Return to Eden, are not just losing customers to the big chains like Target and Walmart and Whole Foods but some are losing the vendors that they have worked with for years. These health food stores paved the way for the vendors to do well enough to then be able to sell to the big guy. But there are vendors who just save all their stuff for the big show now.

Furthermore, the products are being adapted to the chain-store mentality. For instance, Tom's of Maine is now sold at Target. I had thought that this was a good thing, having had to buy our toothpaste at a store an hour away from us or mail order it before. Well, there are changes in the ingredients in the ones sold there - not as natural as before, or as the ones sold at Return to Eden.

The most outrageous thing I learned from Josh was what he told me about the expectations of many of his customers. He has had numerous phone calls from people who have been to his store and bought a product only to find it later at Whole Foods for .50 or a dollar less, so they want the difference put back on their charge card!! I know for a fact that many items are less expensive at Return to Eden than they are at Whole Foods. Would that same customer call up Whole Foods and demand money back?

I am going to continue my boycott of WalMart as a result of seeing this documentary last year . I do shop at Target and a bit at Whole Foods (we sell to them as well) but I am going to keep supporting the smaller mom and pop's places (no longer so small - Return to Eden is a large grocery store) as much as I can. People like Josh and his wife Jody represent true customer service and honesty. They don't compromise their integrity in order to please the share holders. What's the cost of losing that?


Christy said...

I also saw that movie about Walmart and it led to a long discussion on the Crunchy Unschoolers list about whether there was any difference between Target and Walmart. Turns out there really isn't. Target has just been better at staying out of the news. Their labor practices are as bad or worse than Walmart and they get just as many products from 3rd world countries. Just thought you might be interested. I can find some of the webpages that discuss this if you are interested.

Madeline said...

So where do you go? I'll have to join and check out the crunchy unschoolers list archives- I can't do lists any more. Can they really be as bad as Wal Mart has been? I am surprised at that.

Thanks for the info.