Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Demise of Mom & Pop (or, When Will Large Corporations Learn to Keep Their Dirty Little Fingers Out of Everyone Else’s Pie)

Growing up, I never heard the term “Big-Box” store - nor, I’d venture to guess, did my parents. It wasn’t until about 15 years ago I began to hear that term, referring, of course, to large chain stores. Sure, we had Sears and J.C. Penney’s, but no one ever referred to them as “Big-Box” – we called them department stores. Likewise, Safeway and Ralph’s were referred to as grocery stores. And, in my mind, they still are.

When I was growing up, there were also lots of “Mom & Pop” shops – the type of establishment of which there was only one or two – not like Safeway or Sears – of which there were many. The “Mom & Pop” shops were small restaurants or businesses and they were everywhere: just around the corner, downtown, across the street … you get the idea.

Somewhere along the way, the M&P’s began to disappear. Some went away as a matter of course – maybe the relative who’d started the business passed away and there wasn’t a family member interested in pursuing the business; maybe the validity of their establishment ran it’s course – this widget or that widget were no longer sought after by customers. Others, however, have been shoved out by the BB stores. Either the M&P’s cannot compete price-wise with the BB’s, or BB’s have so many stores – or so much property – that they’re shoving – literally – the M&P’s out of business.

What on earth am I talking about? You know – you see it every day in your own neighborhoods. Take, for instance, the Omelette Parlor in Costa Mesa, California. This quaint and charming – and BUSY! – little restaurant has been in the same location for 27 years. For 27 wonderful years they’ve served their community and their customers well. For 27 years they’ve served quality food to generations of customers. People who ate there as 20 year olds, brought their own children in to dine, and are now taking their grandchildren in to enjoy the same quality food they’ve enjoyed for 27 years.

…but not any more.

Well, at least not after May 31, 2010. What happens on that day? On that day, the Omelette Parlor will close its doors for the last time. Why? Not because they don’t have enough business. Not because their food is no longer sought after. No. They will close their doors for the last time because the “Big-Box” store (corporation - Safeway) that owns the strip mall where this little family restaurant exists, has decided to tear it down and build on to their already existing grocery store. Unbelievable! I’m not clairvoyant, but I’d be willing to bet that, if you asked the people of this community which one they’d prefer – a charming, cozy restaurant that has served them well for 27 years, or a larger grocery store (of which there are currently myriad) – they’d choose the Omelette Parlor hands down.

And large corporations can’t understand why the American public is fed up with them and their business tactics. Huh. Go figure.

1 comment:

Anna said...

so depressing! i hate stories like this, and there are a lot of them where i live on the east coast, too.