I read the sad editorial by Margaret Flaherty which concerns the loss of the White Hen Pantry. It was more of a lament.
The sad fact is the war was all confused and lost before the first shot was fired.
Before this particular issue occurred, there was an effort to create a franchise-limiting ordinance in the city. Of course, grandfathered stores like Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks and CVS, etc. would be exempted but no new franchises larger than a 14-store network would be allowed to enter Newburyport. It landed with a dull thud. One, it did not exempt Storey Avenue’s businesses! Two, though there was and still is a mood to Buy Local, no one was willing to turn away a prospective business in these uncertain times. Either way, as adopted in Nantucket and in many other places, it would have been an effective way to prevent Newburyport from becoming homogenized and small businesses would not be as likely pushed out. New England Development had no problem with it. It hasn’t stopped them or hindered them in Nantucket and they would have ‘rolled with the punches’ here.
Then came news of the White Hen Pantry closing. Any politician would have known this was pure quicksand. What makes White Hen Pantry, a big franchise, any better than CVS a bigger franchise? The answer, Customer Service! Hardly something that would hold up in court or in politics. CVS would say, “Hey, we’ve got customer service too!”
In the end, this was more an ethereal effort to preserve a sense of community and a rather convenient service option. In the end, it became an excuse to have a populist fury run against Karp and New England Development and a lot of anger and resentment generated to no one’s benefit. Zeal without knowledge just produces a lot of heat and smoke.
We need citizens armed with facts and solid issues. As Ronald Reagan said in 1977, "they’ll listen to you again if you have a clear set of ideas based on sound principle."
An informed citizen is an unbeatable force!