Firstly, I must say that this article was written by an independent investigator who came upon these bits of information independently and synthesized them and then checked up on the accuracy of my logic in some conversations. In no way did the people and small businesses reffered to give me any privledged information.
Wild Oats is a popular store in Portland. With a variety of locations and catering to the trendy eating habits of the middle-class left, the chain has grown far from its start in Boulder CO. Up to now, the chain has incorporated local products into its stores. Now, the word on the street is that that is about to change.
First, they downsized their pick-up crews. The people who drove the trucks to pick up the local goods were suddenly out of their jobs. For many this came as a big suprise. Many had been doing the job for more than a decade and had house mortgages and such resting on their income. This has been happening incrementally since Natures was bought out by the chain. Along with slowly fazing out contracts with local manufacturers, growers, and producers, Wild Oats also apparently has a fierce animosity for competition- it dropped one local organic produce distibuter's contract after learning that the distributer also sold goods to a local health food chain.
Now, Wild Oats is making it impossible for small local businesses to participate in the chain's distribution by demanding that products carry millions of dollars in insurance, that manufactueres deliver their goods to the stores, etc. It is all done in the coporate model of centralization. It is making its "health food" into an economy of scale: the more centralized and mass produced the product, the cheaper the production, and the cheaper the production, the larger the the profit margin. The larger the profit margin- the larger the chain.
Now, I'm sure this is not too suprising to anyone. It is, after all, capitalism's model. The gist of my article lies in this simple point: Wild Oats is profiting from an image of social and environmental responsibility. While it is very glossy and nice to look at, it is a facade. As people who genuinely care about what you eat and how it effects the environment and your community, it's your time to stop supporting Natures (it's overpriced anyways) and start supporting local small businesses!
Here's a thought for the small businesses too- I know that in other cities and towns across the country, small businesses have formed assosciations to build local power and give local people a choice in what they buy. These coalitions have taken great steps to fight the machines of megacapitalism and megagovernment , where it has been a threat to the health of the community.
As we see the strands of economy and society unravelling, it is a good time to start spending our few dollars with precision, and building strength in our material interactions locally. The homeless are invisible to the national chain, the unemployed are mere statistics. Its up to us to stand up for the interests of our community
Only shop at Wild Oats if you're going to lift! And be careful, employees don't seem to want to see you stealing, but don't implicate them!