Taking its place?
Walgreens, the nation’s largest drugstore chain with 7,714 drugstores in all 50 states, including 11 in Hawaii.
Foodland versus Walgreens. It’s actually not a fair debate. Foodland is primarily a grocery store; Walgreens is a drugstore.
But for this week’s Great Debate, I thought it was appropriate since one was replacing the other.
Here are some facts for comparison:
Foodland opened its first store on May 6, 1948 in Market City. It was Hawaii’s first modern supermarket and crowds were so large, the front doors had to be locked and workers allowed only a few people in at a time. Since then, the company expanded to 32 stores statewide, employing more than 2,500 people. (It was the first supermarket in Hawaii Kai when it opened in 1963.) It’s the largest locally owned and operated grocery retailer in the state.
Walgreens, on the other hand, is the nation’s largest drugstore with more than 7,000 stores across the country and Puerto Rico and fiscal 2010 sales of $67 billion. The Deerfield, Ill.-based chain services nearly 6 million customers every day. It plans to open between 25 and 30 stores in Hawaii, the first store opening in 2007 at the former site of Tower Records on Keeaumoku Street.
You can argue they are different — because they are.
But then how can one — namely, Walgreens — replace the other?
It’s hard to see local companies — once again — get replaced by Mainland chains. But this probably wouldn’t happen if we, as consumers, chose local in the first place.
I had a discussion about this with the son of the owners of the Crack Seed Center, which closed its Ala Moana Center location (though it operates online) last month. When I told him that I prefer to patronize local businesses, he asked if I shopped at Costco.
I paused. “Uh,” I hesitated, “yeah, I do,” quickly adding that I only went there for specific things like puppy pads, toilet paper and Diet Coke.
“It doesn’t matter,” he said. “That still hurts (small businesses).”
And he’s right. I’m guilty of shopping at discount big-box retailers to get a better price. And now local businesses, who can’t afford to discount the way these other companies can, get pushed out.
Is it worth it? Or is this just the way of life in a consumer-based, capitalistic society?