Old K-Mart plaza to see new retail life?
ATT Phase E, I-40 bridge funding approved via two-thirds bonds -- but Third Fork Creek trail scaled back

More on the Loehmann's Plaza Harris Teeter plan -- and a new Whole Foods to boot?

We've learned a bit more about the proposal for a Harris Teeter in the Loehmann's Plaza at Hillandale Rd. and Front St., just north of I-85, courtesy of a retailer in the complex. According to our source, the Harris Teeter is in fact a done deal contingent only upon NCDOT's willingness to add a stop light for the complex during the planned widening of Hillandale Rd. -- an element that appears to be a shoo-in at this point in time.

Assuming that happens and the store moves forward, what's currently planned is nothing short of a major redevelopment of the shopping center, which the N&O reported last year would be renamed Croasdaile Commons. The central part of the strip mall -- in the area where Vickers Clothiers used to be, and a nail shop and dry cleaner sit now, etc. -- would be torn down and replaced by a 50,000 sq. ft. (full-size) Harris Teeter.

On the front of the property, closest to Hillandale Rd., would sit at least two retail outparcel buildings, each two stories, to house the kind of supporting retail pads that currently are located in the strip center. (Think of the design of Sutton Station in south Durham as an example.)  Parking would fill in between the areas.

No word about what the impact would be on the southern side of the complex, where several restaurants and the Front St. Cafe currently sit.

The opening of a Harris Teeter at this spot would provide some in-fill shopping for central Durham residents in neighborhoods like Watts-Hillandale and Trinity Park while, given the current construction of an HT in northwest Durham at Horton and Guess, giving the Teet a chance at dominating grocery retail in this corner of the Bull City.

...

In other grocery news, rumors continue to swirl about Whole Foods being interested in relocating their Broad St. store to a not-yet-public site close to the current location, allowing the store to expand beyond its current, cramped 20,000 sq. ft. space. Reportedly Whole Foods has tried to negotiate with their current leaseholder, Weingarten Realty (which would be involved in developing the new store) a deal by which the old site would be off-limits to a grocery competitor, so no chance of a Fresh Market or Trader Joe's taking the space.

If such a relocation turned out to be the case, BCR's money -- and this is pure speculation, so no need to send the folks at The Regulator a defibrillator at this time -- would be on Weingarten looking to backfill Whole Foods' slot in such a scenario with a mini-big-box wine retailer (Total Wines comes to mind) or a national chain bookstore. The latter scenario would seem especially likely for a few reasons:

  • Category leaders Barnes & Noble and Borders have a penchant for popping up near university campuses;
  • The 20,000 sq. ft. Whole Foods site is just about the same size as the typical national bookseller site;
  • Borders and Northgate were reportedly in negotiations several years back about a store at the struggling mall, so there's clear interest in the market;
  • Neither retailer has a presence in Durham that's not in earshot of I-40.

Again, the bookseller angle is purely a best-guess based on trends in other campus towns. No matter what, though, we'll keep our eyes and ears out on the Whole Foods relocation rumors.

Comments

seth vidal

Here's an idea, why don't we take the time to make this portion of durham more like montpelier, vt and ban all chains within city limits. Put a bullet into ideas of bigbox retailers which could destroy our healthy local businesses and obliterate any sense of community we still have remaining.

I find the above concept of 'progress' as described above as appealing as an acid enema.

I was in the columbus circle whole foods in nyc last week and there's not much more impersonal than a vast space faceless space.

Barry

i think Whole Foods trying to move up the road a piece is one of the worst kept secrets in Durham.

And wouldn't it be ironic if after all that work to make sure that central campus didn't undercut locally owned businesses something like BN moved intothe 9th St. area?

durhamfood

Agreed. Opening a B&N in that space would be awful :(

Chuck Clifton

Hmmmm ... this sounds like a collusive negotiation between Weingarten and Whole Foods to ensure that Whole Foods does not have to worry about competition. I for one would love to see Whole Foods faced with a viable competitor which could help adjust their "everything is $3.49 or higher" pricing model more towards reasonable prices for mixed income folks in the inner-core. If we truly believe in the rich socio-economic integration of Durham's inner-core and wish to preserve it, we must not let the "Downtown growth" turn into upscale only retailers and services in and around our in-town neighborhoods. Hopefully as our Council expands its interests beyond the Downtown Loop they will consider these impacts.

Kevin Davis

Chuck -- What makes this 'collusive?' I don't know the particulars here (and, again, this is all speculation to an extent), but let's think this through for a second. You're a retailer set to open up a new store in a nearby location -- an action that will bring profits to the developer/shopping center owner though long-term rents. Your fear is that if you invest the money to move and open a larger store, another grocery would backfill your old location practically next door to you.

If I were that retailer, I sure as heck wouldn't want to invest money in a new store only to have the market undercut out from under me. This is not much more than an extension of a principle already in place in most shopping centers -- grocery stores, pharmacies, etc. commonly have exclusivity rights within a plaza (which is why you never see, say, Food Lion and H.T. in the same shopping center.)

A collusion implies to my mind that there's some mutually beneficial thing going on here. Hardly would seem to be the case here; such a caveat in the WF/Weingarten deal would tend to benefit WF but not Weingarten. Again, though, this isn't so far out of the ordinary for shopping center deals.

...

In terms of "reasonable prices for mixed income folks in the inner core" -- let's see, we have Food Lion on Hillsborough/Main St.; Food Lion at the Lakewood shopping center; Food Lion on Fayetteville Rd.; Compare Foods at Avondale/Roxboro/I-85; Compare Foods at University Dr..

Now, with the caveat that East Durham is miserably underserved by more affordable grocery options, or any options for that matter... I'm hard-pressed to see a lack of mass-market affordable groceries in the urban core. Or am I missing something?

Look, I'm a fairly liberal and progressive person myself. But I'm hard-pressed to see the problem you're describing.

If you're talking about the lack of an organic, healthy grocery store that's also affordable -- OK, no argument there. Find me a national retailer that's doing that -- heck, find me a regional, local, small business, whatever that's doing that. It'd be great to see them here in Durham. Problem is, I'm not sure who that would be.

Chuck Clifton

Collusive: I think that Weingarten should be free to put whomever they like in WF's location. Any contractual negotiations that prevent this would interrupt natural competition -- the backbone of fair pricing. Perhaps collusion is too harsh a concept but the idea is there. And I do believe there is some mutual benefit to Weingarten or they would not want to be restricted on who can be their next tenant -- perhaps WF would pay a premium to terminate their contract or maybe they would agree to move into another Weingarten property -- but there must be some incentive for Weingarten to constrain its list of potential tenants.
~
Earth Fare, Trader Joes, etc. would be more comparable competitors of WF serving a different market segment than Food Lion, et. al. The absence of strong, direct competitors should make us wonder if such negotiations with Weingarten is why there aren't any direct competitors of WF.

Kevin Davis

I was a bit hasty in stating that there's no benefit to Weingarten in this supposed deal point -- there would be, in fact, a benefit from their getting an increase in leasable space through a new center, outparcel, etc.

That said -- I still don't see how it's different from what's usual and customary in shopping centers, and I don't see it being particularly mindblowing for WF to say, "We don't want to move into a bigger store in a retail-locked area if you'll bring a competitor in practically next door."

Ultimately, Weingarten could say no to that -- or WF could choose to stay where it is.

...

I'd love to see a Fresh Market, Earth Fare, TJ's, etc. around here. (Though as Blazer Manpurse taught us, you gotta have a Porsche to shop at TJ's!) That said, I wouldn't hold my breath. Maybe an outside chance of something for Heritage Square, but I'd be pretty surprised to see a grocer go back in there. I wouldn't be shocked to see a Fresh Market or Earth Fare take root in the University Marketplace redevelopment, though.

None of these, however, are broadly affordable to a socioeconomically diverse population.

James martin

If Whole Foods is cramped in that space, what would possibly give you the idea that EarthFare, Trader Joes or any other competitor of Whole Foods would fit into that space?

And while I'd agree that the snooty WF ought to be more reasonably priced, I'd agree that it's much more likely that a bookstore or liquor store would move into that space, what with so many literature and liquor starved Dukies so close.

W.T. Effington

My guess is that Dollar General will be the site of the next Whole Foods.

Then the old Whole Foods space should be converted to a bowling alley. That would be rad.

Michael Bacon

Since Kevin doesn't think he can say it, I'll come out and say it. The rumors I've heard, and nobody's told me I have to keep this under my hat, are that Whole Foods is jumping right across Perry St.

I don't think you can call the deal between Weingarten and WF "collusive," since it's very likely to be an actual cash purchase by WF of the rights to put a grocery store in that location. Trader Joe's or someone else could outbid them for the rights, but they of course would probably want the agreement to exclude a Whole Foods across the street. I'm not retail expert, but I think it's pretty common for grocery stores to obtain non-compete agreements in the shopping centers they open in.

I think I'd be ill if I saw a B&N or a Borders going in there. A bowling alley, on the other hand, would be a beautiful thing. (And everyone else -- be nice to Kevin in his chain affection. He went to college in Boston, so it's not really his fault if a bit of his brain got eaten up there.)

David Rollins

Let me be the first to say that I would welcome a B&N or Borders in that space. I love The Regulator, it's where I go to browse and get new ideas, especially local writers. However, there are times when I need six copies of "The Millionaire Next Door" (like say, the day before Xmas) and I just can't wait on Amazon.

I also think it would be sweet comeuppance for the OWD types who tried to "save" Ninth St. by blocking the B&N on the new Central Campus. If you know anything about Duke & Durham, you know that this development would never have been one to offer (gasp!) free parking to non-Duke affiliated patrons. This was always a red herring IMO.


John Schelp

It wasn't just "OWD types" who were troubled by a chain bookstore coming to campus and not having to pay property taxes (thereby undercutting a nearby bookstore that does pay property taxes). FYI, below are two letters with more background (including a prof on the executive committee of Duke's Academic Council's).

Also, Duke showed us plans with a large parking deck next to where the chain bookstore would go. The new deck included free parking spaces for the public.

After submitting a mostly blank Development Plan, Duke finally did agree to twelve committed elements (ie. binding, written agreements). Things are looking up. At the City Council vote, Duke's provost called our efforts a model of town-gown relations. (It just took a while to get there.)


Letter: Ask Duke questions
Herald-Sun, 10 October 2006

As a Duke employee, I know that Duke does try to adhere to its commitments. When Duke pledges "to make sure its Central Campus redevelopment won't include any retail stores that are larger than 20,000 square feet," we need to be clear about what this entails.

First, there is no commitment to the precise number of stores that will be located on Central Campus. Thus three stores of this size will amount to 60,000 square feet, the equivalent of three Eckerd's. In other words, any planning commission considering Duke's rezoning application for Central Campus needs to ask questions about the total square footage that will be devoted to retail, and not just the size of individual buildings earmarked for this purpose.

Second, Duke now has just under 23,000 square feet of retail space in the Bryan Center on West Campus. From this it already generates several million dollars of profit, mainly from the sale of Duke paraphernalia. This is due in large part to a captive market of students as well as visitors who come to the West Campus stadiums for sports events.

If Duke envisages a significant increase of total retail space on the remodeled Central Campus, this will have to involve targeting a larger market, meaning Durham residents. Or else Duke will need a massive increase in the size of its student body.

If Duke is going to have to target this larger Durham market as a matter of simple economic sense, the merchants on nearby Ninth Street need to start asking some hard questions.

Kenneth Surin
Durham

The writer is a professor of literature at Duke.

****

Letter: Duke gives runaround on new central campus
Herald-Sun, 10 October 2006

As a taxpayer and local merchant I am just outraged at the runaround Durham and its citizens are receiving from Duke University regarding the rezoning of Central Campus. After nearly four years of stonewalling, Duke's rezoning request at tonight's Planning Commission will allow the university to build any number of 20,000 square-foot stores on campus. This is a major departure from Duke's earlier statements to the community that new retail on Central Campus would not exceed 10,000 square-feet total.

Why won't Duke work with the community? Why is it that a wealthy, tax exempt organization that has consistently opposed payment in lieu of local taxes now wants to compete, at a tax free advantage, with local retail businesses? What is going on here?

Competition is fine. As a local retailer I welcome it, but only if the playing field is level. To grant the possibility of such massive retail space to an entity abusing its tax status puts small local merchants at the bottom of a very steep hill.

As presented today, Duke's request has the potential of undermining local business for miles (this is not just about Ninth Street) while lining their own tax exempt pockets.

I hope the days of Duke calling the shots in Durham are over and the Planning Commission will send Duke back to the table to negotiate honorably with the community stakeholders who've been working on these issues.

Carol Anderson
Durham

whosedurham

"I love The Regulator, it's where I go to browse"..."there are times when I need six copies of 'The Millionaire Next Door' and I just can't wait on Amazon."

wow, what a perfect description of the forces that are driving smaller, locally-owned businesses under all across the US.
1. You'll browse i.e. use the services of intelligent book-buyers and staff, but not buy to actually support paying those people;
2. You pay loads of money for drivel, rather than quality;
3. You can't wait for ANYthing - immediate gratification only!
Oh, and I suppose it's not worth noting that Regulator can order nearly anything that's in print, and get it in about the same time as if you ordered it regular shipping from Amazon.

I'm just thankful that there ARE people like those in OWD who fight to keep their neighborhood shops in business, against the forces of homogeneity and greed. I lament that one business moving might start a wave of chain-store in-migration that would rip the heart out of the 9th Street area. Next thing you know, Abercrombie will be opening at West Village, and Starbucks will be piping Modern Muzak out from its new digs in the old Francesca's space.

There are some of us who gladly sacrifice TV, fluff novels, and new clothes to eat as healthily and sustainably as possible, and for those people, Food Lion is not a useful option. The subsuming of Wild Oats means even less competition in that grocery market niche, and probably higher prices for WF shoppers in general. There's very little spirit of competition in that.

KeepDurhamDifferent!

Drivel? It sounds to me like you haven't read MND (hint: it's not a get-rich-quick book).

If I wanted to browse and not buy, why wouldn't I simply stay home and surf Amazon? Of course I buy things at the Regulator; as I noted it's best for local and more erudite fare. Their in-store readings are also a good draw.

As to the loads of money, the chain-type stores have much lower prices so I'm not sure where that critique comes from. Where possible, I buy used books at Nice Price or via Amazon, to reduce the impact on the environment (and save money). When you need a bunch of copies, however, or want the variety of large format books (art, cooking, coffee-table) that are best displayed in a big-box store, it's hard to beat Barnes & Noble.

durhamfood

Like (almost) all chains, Barnes & Noble is anti-union and anti-employee. They hire low-cost labor and can afford to have low prices because they can hire and fire on a constant basis. B&N and shops like it have consistently barged in and forced smaller independent retailers out of business.

KeepDurhamDifferent!

Here we go, it's Chipotle all over again. When I hear "pro-union", I think "anti-immigration". I suppose Amazon is anti-employee as well?

KH

I will play devil's advocate here. So most people believe that if Barnes & Nobles opens in the Old WF location, all of The Regulators customers will mindlessly shift their business to the B&N store?

That question sums up my opinion of the whole Chain vs. Local debate. If you like Local Stores, SUPPORT THEM. I know when I see Ginny at Northgate she appreciates comments about the on-going renovations but at the end of the day am I opening up my wallet? That's what keeps local businesses open.

Personally, I frequent both Local and National depending on what I need. I LIKE options...

durhamfood

"When I hear "pro-union", I think "anti-immigration". I suppose Amazon is anti-employee as well?"

Where exactly do you get that first assertion? I don't see being pro-union and pro-immigration as contradictory in any way whatsoever. It seems to me that if you take that stance, and it's contrapositive - pro-immigration is anti-union - then you are advocating that employers pay immigrants a lower rate and treat them less well than Americans.

Unions are merely a way to allow workers a collective voice in the workplace that they often cannot achieve as individuals. I agree that unions don't always do the job they're supposed to do, but equating unions with anti-immigrant stances based on the ultra-traditional isolationist left is absurd. We don't live in the 70's.

As for Amazon: most of its employees are highly skilled (eg web designers, etc). I have no idea how well their warehouse employees are treated.

"So most people believe that if Barnes & Nobles opens in the Old WF location, all of The Regulators customers will mindlessly shift their business to the B&N store?"

No, not mindlessly. However, in the long-run, people will shift, because B&N is often cheaper and markets very aggressively. As I've said before, the national chains have competitive advantages that massively trump the local stores. Local stores cannot sustain themselves based on the loyalties of a few ideological customers who insist on shopping locally.

Max

Thanks to durhamfood for posting exactly what I had planned to write about unions and immigration. I will only add that virtually every union is now pro-immigrant, as is the leadership of both U.S. union federations (since 1996). In fact, the fastest growing unions in America are composed overwhelmingly of immigrants. Finally, the union that has jurisdiction for organizing bookstore workers, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), is currently one of the most aggressive supporters of immigrants' rights--see their NC-based Justice at Smithfield campaign for one powerful local example.

B

Barnes and Noble are heartless bastards trampling over the little guy by maintaining a broad and consistent inventory of books people want to buy and offering them at competitive prices. Clearly, they are a threat to our way of life and must be stopped at all costs.

durhamfood

B: For the 100th time, can anyone here take a second to think about somebody other than than consumers?

The selfishness that results from the 'I need products as cheaply and as quick as humanly possible' attitude is what tramples on little people and on local businesses.

That attitude isn't really different from stomping your feet and whining to mommy and daddy 'I WANT THAT BARBIE NOW', except that now you're an adult and for some reason see businesses as mommy and daddy. You're now willing to part with some money, although as little as possible, to get that instant gratification. If you bothered thinking about what's good for people around you in your community, rather than just for yourself, perhaps you'd see why 'competitive prices' aren't the most important thing. Perhaps you'd even see why keeping your hard-earned cash in the area - rather than in the pocket of some invisible CEO - might be a better idea.

As consumers, we enable the large corporations' behavior. A purely individualist consumerist attitude eventually leads to degradation of local business, rise of identically-dull huge chains, loss of community and gentrification. I, for one, don't want to see that.

B

DF--Who is not a consumer?

I would argue (among other things) that providing a Good Thing (such as books) at the most accessible price to the greatest number of people, is, in fact, good for the people in the community.

I also think that imposing your particular set of preferences about the businesses you like to patronize on your neighbors by force of law (i.e., by "Big Box" ordinances and the like) is a profoundly selfish act.

B

DF--Who is not a consumer?

I would argue (among other things) that providing a Good Thing (such as books) at the most accessible price to the greatest number of people, is, in fact, good for the people in the community.

I also think that imposing your particular set of preferences about the businesses you like to patronize on your neighbors by force of law (i.e., by "Big Box" ordinances and the like) is a profoundly selfish act.

durhamfood

Most low-waged workers are not consumers of the products of their places of work.

I strongly disagree about cheap=good. Providing good jobs that enable people to shop locally and keep their hard-earned cash in the community is far more beneficial than providing low-cost 'solutions' that leech money outwards. The former builds community, whereas the latter entrenches poverty.

As for the 'imposing by law' argument: this is complete nonsense. Current federal trade laws massively favor huge corporations. The concept of 'corporate citizens' having 'corporate rights' gives such megaliths yet more muscle to push out local businesses. Local zoning laws provide a (meager) balance.

B

"Most low-waged workers are not consumers of the products of their places of work."

Really? So B&N employess don't buy books, Kroger employees don't buy food, and Wal-Mart employees don't buy all the junk they sell at Wal-Mart? Do you have numbers on this?

"Providing good jobs that enable people to shop locally and keep their hard-earned cash in the community is far more beneficial than providing low-cost 'solutions' that leech money outwards. The former builds community, whereas the latter entrenches poverty."

I strongly disagree that local=good. By this argument, the ideal economic system is subsistence farming. Also, cheaper consumer goods increase the purchasing power of the dollar, which is a net benefit to people who don't have many of them.

"The concept of 'corporate citizens' having 'corporate rights' gives such megaliths yet more muscle to push out local businesses. Local zoning laws provide a (meager) balance."

I haven't made any assertions about 'corporate rights' but please feel free to argue against whatever you imagine I believe. My point was (and is) that your argument suggests that you won't settle for simply not shopping at particular store...you want to keep your neighbors from making that choice, too. Am I wrong about that?

durhamfood

How many Whole Foods workers shop at Whole Foods? Come on, you must be kidding me...

"I strongly disagree that local=good. By this argument, the ideal economic system is subsistence farming."

Nonsense. Taking your argument to the same extreme, the ideal economic system is a ravenous free market in which developing world slaves work at the pleasure of the wealthy West. Such trickle-down capitalism only works for those who are already rich, leaving the poor to scramble for scraps.

I'd rather buy products from people who I know and respect than from faceless corporations. Feel free to disagree, but please be aware that it is you who is restricting choice, by placing small businesses in impossible competition with the corporate world. The choice your system provides is only temporary: the giants eventually crush the local stores, leaving only themselves as monoliths.

durhamfood

"My point was (and is) that your argument suggests that you won't settle for simply not shopping at particular store...you want to keep your neighbors from making that choice, too. Am I wrong about that?"

I want to provide real choice, not the fake choices provided by the corporate giants. There cannot be fair competition in the presence of mega-corporations.

LBR

"I also think that imposing your particular set of preferences about the businesses you like to patronize on your neighbors by force of law (i.e., by "Big Box" ordinances and the like) is a profoundly selfish act."

This opinion still only focuses on the consumer "rights" perpsective (i.e., the only reason to favor or oppose a business opening in a particular location is because you want/don't want to patronize that business.)

And lets not kid ourselves: no one in this particular region is devoid of the opportunity to shop at a large chain bookstore. (Anyone who can't afford the gas or bus fare to one of the existing ones probably lacks the discretionary income to shop there anyway.)

Lastly, the place providing books (which I agree are a Good Thing) at the most accessible price to the greatest number of people would be a library. ;)

B

DF--Hey, I'll grant you Whole Foods as an exception...I can't even afford to shop there, and I'm doing alright. What about the others I mentioned? You're the one who made the extremely broad assertion about the spending patterns of "most low-waged workers". So back it up. Most low-wage workers don't work at Whole Foods.

Look, I know I'm not going to change your mind, but I find it bewildering that you seem to be arguing in favor of keeping consumer prices artificially high for the good of low-income people. And yet you dismiss anything that doesn't fit in your reflexively anti-corporate worldview as "nonsense".

You hate corporations. I get it. But your feelings aren't an argument.

As to the inevitablity of local businesses losing out to the corporate giants, there is evidence that it doesn't always go down that way:

http://reason.com/news/show/123497.html

I guess where you and I fundamentally disagree here is that I don't really see why every business opening or closing is a matter for the community to decide upon by any mechanism other than the market. From where I see it, top-down micromanagement of local development is how we ended up with sprawling suburbs and dead urban cores in the first place. Neighborhoods developed into what we would now call "mixed use" organically before residential and commercial zoning ever existed. Now they have to be zoned that way, and the result is creepy disney-like developments such as Southern Village.

But I digress...

I actually like the Regulator, and will buy stuff there if they have what I want. Mostly because I hate driving down 15-501. I just don't think you (or the government, acting on your behalf) has a right to tell someone they can't open up shop in the neighborhood and compete.

My point being that you might be surprised at the extent to which what we value in a community does overlap. I live here too (not Raleigh, not Cary) and that is no accident. We just might disagree on the best mechanisms to keep this place good and make it better.

Peace,
B


durhamfood

OK, so people who work at Food Lion can probably afford to shop there. But the same doesn't go for Harris Teeter, for example, and probably not for places like Starbucks etc.

Of course there are exceptions to the corporations beating out the local companies, but those are by far the exception, not the rule. The rare David beats Goliath case doesn't prove your point.

A community should have the legal tools and means to decide whatever it wants in whatever way it wants. A government dedicated to laissez-faire market capitalism allows, by its inaction, businesses to impose themselves on communities.

I don't see any reason why some CEO from Chicago should be able to plop a pile of cash on a table and hey presto, a store appears in Durham making money for him/her.

chris

David - It's kind of interesting that you mentioned "The Millionaire Next Door" book in this thread, because I kind of doubt that any of those millionaires got there by shopping at Whole Foods. I've often wondered whether the people who shop there have any concept of the power of compound interest.

Also, I will buy stuff I need at Wal-Mart, or wherever else is the cheapest and most convenient, without any feelings of guilt. The Federal Reserve has been keeping interest rates low, which essentially means that they are just printing money with nothing to back it up. This is a serious inflationary pressure, and the only thing that even remotely keeps inflation in check is cheap foreign imports and cheap labor. The whole thing is immoral, but it's the foundation of our debt-ridden consumer economy. I'd really like to know how to fix these inequities without destroying the entire national economy.

Oh. I forgot. I just need to "shop local". That will fix everything.

durhamfood

Yes, chris, congrats on understanding a little economics - if only from a somewhat paranoid perspective. You're not the only one, so you can stop being patronizing...

The entire concept of a 'national economy' is an artifice created by big government to make more money for the rich, who tend to have a significant influence on economic policy. Local economic control would, for the most part, be very beneficial for local communities.

No, you can't get that just by shopping locally, but you can begin to change collective behaviors and attitudes by encouraging people to do so.

Will

People, people PEOPLE! Have you all ready forgotten? It isn't WF or the Regulator or Borders or Chipolte or unions or immigrants to blame for Durham's ills...it is the still-yet-to-be-published Durham Magazine....let's not loose site of the real devil :) HA HA

Kevin Davis

Actually, Will, you're forgetting -- it's the secret ingredient *in* the Chipotle burritos! It's soylent green! SOYLENT GREEN IS PEOPLE... who SHOP AT CHAIN STORES!!

Seriously, folks, I'm flattered that BCR has become Ground Zero for a neo-Industrial Workers of the World battle, but I do suspect things are sounding like an echo chamber (or maybe just to me?)

FWIW, I shop at chain and non-chain stores. I patronize many local businesses (just came back from a night at the Carolina Theatre, in fact.) I know local, small business owners who are pillars of the community and give back to charity, give their employees health insurance, etc.

I know of others who are greedy SOBs and would screw their tenants, employees, vendors, etc. out of any dime they could. Frankly, there's a few cases of folks like this where I'd _rather_ give my money to a chain store... or another small business.

I mean, if the last eight years have taught us anything, it's that the world is rarely black and white -- it's usually a halftone pattern of grays. Personally, I try to see the world of politics as well as the world of how I spend my own dollars in that way.

chris

durhamfood - You are correct. I AM PARANOID about the economic future of this country. I'm trying to save as much money as possible, which means that I will give my business to stores with the lowest prices.

I also agree with you 100% that the national economy has been rigged to benefit the rich. I would love to see a change in governmental policy to tilt things more in favor of the poor and middle class. I'll vote for whatever Democratic candidate seems likely to implement some of these changes, although I'm not going to hold my breath.

I'm not against shopping at locally-owned establishments. I just don't think it's some unifying principle that can bring about a positive change. The unifying principle is to stop shopping EVERYWHERE, and I think that many more people could agree with that type of statement. Buying useless crap at a local store doesn't strike me as a noble cause.

By the way, as much as I try to save money, I did feel compelled to give a few dollars to Reverend Billy a while back. Don't tell him that I shop at Wal-Mart, because I might get excommunicated.

durhamfood

chris: fair enough. Each to their own on that one. If you feel you need to save cash, save cash. Also agreed re buying for the sake of buying. The rich bankers have been trying to convince us for years that the only way the economy will keep going is if we keep on buying their crap. That's quite the load of bull. As for Democrats vs Republicans or one Democrat vs another - meh, no one's going to change things from up there. Too many interests.

Kevin: agreed too, mostly. My general principle is that chains are almost exclusively bad, and that one has to be discerning regarding local shops. There are a lot of local businesses that I have no desire to buy from.

KeepDurhamDifferent!

I don't think "The Millionaire Next Door" would shop at Whole Foods. I hold myself to this standard (although my age/income ratio makes me not quite a AAW*), and about the only things I buy there are TurboDog beer, bulk grains, and fresh lemongrass. They used to take the ends off their smoked salmon and sell them as leftover pieces for $8/lb., but the availability was always irregular, and then I discovered Costco sells a whole pound of lox for ten bucks (suspect this is a chain operation even durhamfood can get behind).

I love the libertarian ethos of Whole Foods's founder, however, and have great memories of shopping the original store in Austin. When they move to a better Durham location I can probably stop driving way out of my way to Trader Joe's or the Carrboro market.

On the union thing, I should have made it clear that unions are anti-illegal immigration. They've done a great job organising the NC chickenpickers, but they've all got a green card. Same with the butcher at Compare Foods, I'd wager. The guy who sells me weird pieces of goat from his taco truck? Nope. The Salvadorans who clean my house? Nada.

Meanwhile, I think we can all agree to spend less money and to spend it local when it makes sense. Use the library or buy used books (Nice Price or Amazon). Chipotle's not bad (where are the f-in pickled peppers?), but you really can't beat the dollar tongue tacos on Hillsborough St. I see him shopping at Sam's Club, by the way.

*http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Millionaire_Next_Door

durhamfood

Re undocumented workers: Actually, unions like UNITE HERE have done quite a bit of work with them, as have organizations like the Farm Labor Organizing Committee. You're right that many of the large traditional unions are ambivalent at best, but again, it's not a hard and fast rule. It's extremely hard to organize undocumented workers, as demanding legal rights without legal recognition is quite the nightmare...

ASE

>> Then the old Whole Foods space should be converted to a bowling alley. That would be rad.

What a fun idea. And, it has a historic precendent in the neighborhood:

"In the evening, workers could watch movies at Erwin Auditorium, which stood across Main Street from the mill. The building also contained a bowling alley and served as a meeting hall for a number of community organizations."

(http://www.owdna.org/ermillbonner.htm)

Dave W.

"I actually like the Regulator, and will buy stuff there if they have what I want. Mostly because I hate driving down 15-501. I just don't think you (or the government, acting on your behalf) has a right to tell someone they can't open up shop in the neighborhood and compete."

I think the reason there is an anti-chain movement getting more vocal is people see the ease at which chain stores and mega businesses can alter the physical landscape of an area/town which affects everyone's life (whether they shop at the Regulator, B&N, or never buy books in the first place).

15-501 didn't use to be an an ugly ass sprawling mess of redundant crap too long ago but it apparently was easy to change the zoning to accommodate large, surface lot oriented chain retail which then attracts even more of that.

Mega chains usually seem to have their way changing land zonings and DOT priorities in the name of "economic progress" and then years later we are stuck with more sprawl, more huge tracts of usually underutilized surface parking, more strip malls (many of which become suburban run down ghettos 20 years later and then the area has severe hurdles in being a human scale community)

This expanding local/chain debate jumping off what "should" go in the WF store when they clear out is different in that this is "in-town", but I think the anti-chain feelings are based largely on people getting tired of their physical and cultural landscape getting changed/worsened so dramatically which often happens when big chains move in.

I think this is why a lot of people who are anti-chain see it as necessary to fight chains popping up--even if they are accused of being anti-choice/anti-freedom in the shopping debate (which I think is only a small part of the picture).

The comments to this entry are closed.