Letter to the editor: the cons of Publix

The effect that these chain stores have on Troy’s local businesses

Jesse Derington


With the buzz continuing to build up around a Publix being built in Troy, many might wonder what the new superstore’s presence could mean for local businesses.

The answer to that question isn’t so simple. What these massive superstores bring to the table is decreased prices and larger selections — compared to the typical locally owned corner store.

While this all seems positive, it fails to consider the local impact over the long term, where consumers benefit more when there are more competitors in the market.

Big retailers such as Wal-Mart or Publix are notorious for outlasting local businesses due to having connections around the world.

Local businesses simply can’t compete with these retail giants. The result of this is the decrease of small businesses in the ever-collapsing world of “small town America.” Once local competition has been eliminated, those deep discounts soon return to normal.

While these superstores do save us money, it doesn’t come without its price. Compared to local stores, some claim they contribute far less to the local community.

Many studies (by ILSR’s Stacy Mitchell delivered at the annual conference of the American Planning Association, April 2000) find that the benefit of a new chain store is far less than the cost it brings to the loss of employment at all the businesses it forces to close down.

While spending in the community usually remains relatively constant, it is displaced and concentrated on the superstores that dominate the area.

Since chain stores can only successfully compete with other chain stores, this equates to less employment in any market.  Another important thing to consider about locally owned versus big business is that locally owned stores tend to circulate every dollar spent within the community, creating a stable and diverse economic environment.

Big name retailers, on the other hand, are quick to abandon locations if profits aren’t as high as they expected. This situation creates a devastating effect on small town economies that have already lost local businesses as well as the uprooting big business.

With everything that’s been said so far, it must be absolute fact that big business is ruining small town economies everywhere — right?

Well, not exactly. Despite the negative effects I have addressed in this article, history suggests that the more diversified on a macro-economic scale we get, the better off we are.

In reality, business in America will always be a competitive field. Stores like Publix and Wal-Mart are the best at what they do. If they can outperform local corner stores, economics tells us that we are all better off as those small business owners can move on to something they are better at doing than Wal-Mart or Publix, such as more personal or service-oriented fields, which are valued within communities and are a central part of the United States economy today.

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