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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Support Your Local "Mom & Pop" Shops

A few weeks ago, I found out that the small gluten free store I’ve been going to is going out of business.  This makes me sad, as the owners are truly wonderful people.

When I look back to 4 ½ years ago, I really had no one to speak to about how to be gluten free.  Of course I checked out the internet, but as someone said to me very recently, looking up gluten free information on the internet can be exhausting.  While the internet does contain a ton of good information, sometimes you just want to speak one on one with someone.

I distinctly remember the first time I went to this family run shop.  I was talking to the person behind the counter, and I was complaining about how I just couldn’t find a bread I liked.  He went over to the freezer, pulled out three samples, put them in the microwave they have and gave me samples to try.  I was hooked.

This is the store I went to for gluten free pastas, xanthan gum, various gluten free flours, gluten free cereal, etc, etc.  This is the store I would go to when I had any question – no matter how dumb – about being gluten free. 

This was the ultimate specialty store.  And up until two years ago, they did quite well.  But then being gluten free became…something of a fad.  We’ve all discussed that on Twitter and in other blogs, so there is no need for me to go into it any more than it already has been.  On top of that, more and more people are finding they have issues with gluten.

Because of this, supermarkets have begun to bring in more and more gluten free food – some in fact have their own section.  As Carol, co-owner of the store put it, “I can’t compete anymore.  I buy product by the case load, they buy product by the pallet load.  My customers used to come in and buy a lot of different products.  Now they come for one specific thing.”

Now granted, gluten free food is expensive, and I would be lying if I said I didn’t find it cheaper and more convenient to find Udi’s bread in my local supermarket.  But is that all we care about as a society?  Do we really want the entire world to eventually be owned by Walmart? 

Do you remember when you used to go to your local video store?  You would go and see what new videos they had in stock.  You’d talk to the owner about what movies they’d seen.  They’d give you recommendations, based on past movies you’d rented from them.  Now?  Order on line from Netflix.  Convenient for sure.  Also, pretty impersonal.

I don’t want to see small, privately owned shops of any kind fall by the wayside.  I would like to see them thrive.  So I ask you to please make a stop into your local gluten free store (or gift shop, or book store, or hardware store) and give them some business.  Sure it may cost you a little more, but it will be well worth your time.

1 comment:

  1. Agreed. Local shops are truly local gems. I can't stand people who "use" the local shop owners to get information (because the local shop owners and clerks are always more knowledgable than the faceless, large super-stores) and then buy the items from the big box stores to save a few bucks. Instead, people should look at the few extra cents or dollars as the price one pays for that level of expertise. Shop local!