One of the issues I’ve been asked about most following the League of Women Voters forum is the proposed Walgreens store on Broadway east of Sidewinders. Please don’t allow it, several voters have urged.
I certainly do not relish the prospect of another chain store opening on Jackson’s main street, and I have seen neighbors rally against a Walgreens elsewhere.
But the town council has to be fair in considering the proposal. We live in a free market. What the council can do is make sure the building meets the regulations, has sufficient parking and employee housing, fits the surroundings, doesn’t have a gaudy sign out front and doesn’t snarl traffic. Those are the types of concerns I would address.
What I have emphasized, starting with the LWV forum, is that consumers have more power to vote with their dollars. I have seen chain businesses come and go in Jackson: Polo and Benetton on the Town Square, KFC and Arby’s along Broadway, to name a few.
The obvious threat from a Walgreens opening is that it could put historic Stone Drug, across the street, out of business. But as I told a News&Guide reporter this week, I doubt you’ll be able to buy an elk tag at Walgreens or find out what sort of Rapala is working on Jackson Lake. With pharmacies already in Kmart and the existing grocery stores, I’m not sure Walgreens will be a slam dunk.
Not everyone is resistant to the proposal. Candidate Hailey Morton said she would shop at Walgreens and the store would benefit the community.
I disagree. There are other benefits to consider besides a cheap price tag. I shop at Jackson Whole Grocer and pay more for food, for instance, because the store provides good jobs to people who live here and have a stake in the community. People we know. More of the money coming into the store stays in the community, too. The chain grocers hire Eastern European and South American students on temporary visas.
Also, quality and service often are better at a small, locally owned business. That’s why for a burger I go to Betty Rock instead of McDonald’s, buy gear at Skinny Skis and TM instead of Gart, and always chose Bubba’s for breakfast over Village Inn across the street.
The proposed Walgreens is the nature of our American economy. But if citizens don’t like it, they don’t have to shop there.