Stick with local businesses

Letter to the editor

Posted: Monday, December 20, 2004

I would like to encourage the Juneau Assembly to vote against Home Depot coming to Juneau. If they decide to consider accepting HD's offer, at least insist on an economic impact study first. It is important to know long-term goals.

The article in the paper sounded rosy, talking about bringing 125 jobs (90 percent of which will be local hires) to Juneau, but they failed to mention how many (or should I say, how few) of the local hires will be for full-time jobs with benefits. Juneau needs more full-time, benefit-providing positions.

The effect of a large, nationwide retail outlet coming to Juneau could be devastating to several local businesses and the economy in a city like Juneau. With financial backing from national headquarters, a store like Home Depot can undersell locally owned businesses until they all close. After the current competition is gone, the nationwide retailer can, and will, raise prices to make up for losses.

Many may feel that local businesses need a little "healthy competition." The fact that we already have more than one store selling lumber, hardware, or garden supplies, etc., is healthy competition. Large retail "boxes" (to quote Brandon Loomis) are not healthy. Prices may seem high in Juneau, but our local businesses offer full-time employment and health benefits to large percentages of employees at these stores which is costly. These are our friends and neighbors. While that may not concern us personally, it is very important to these employees and their families. It means a lot to me to be able to support our community in that way. Don't forget that it won't be too many years down the road that the prices at the only hardware-lumber-garden center in town will be just as high.

This is a capitalist society, of course. Part of being such a society means that consumers - you and I - have the power to decide who and what will succeed in our community. It's our choice whether it will be local businesses who have been contributing to our community in various ways for decades, or large conglomerations who will squash longstanding community fixtures like Don Abel, Valley Lumber and True Hardware.

I urge the Assembly to vote against allowing Home Depot to come to Juneau at this time.

Heather-Mae Bucich


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