concern about Walgreens

The Walgreens proposal is in the early stages, facing preliminary design review.

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.

3 Replies to “concern about Walgreens”

  1. Jim- I am happy to be voting for you for council and would vote for you twice if I could! However I don’t think that discounting any business in town for hiring people/students from other countries to work at their stores during peak seasons should be knocked. Those students/employees live here while they work here too, shop at the same grocery stores, and pay their rent (along with their taxes). A local getting a job at Walgreens or a job at Stone is equal to me- especially if they provide adequate pay and even (rarely) some benefits. For me the bigger concern is who owns it- where are they? Personally I can’t think of anything I would need at a Walgreens I couldn’t find at an existing store and would rather not see another building go up that just sells a bunch of crap (we already have Kmart & The Dollar Store for that). But it would matter to me as a community member if they do move forward- is it a local person trying to start a franchise or is it a corporation just trying to expand market-share? I’ve heard rumors that JWG is actually owned by an out-of-towner- wouldn’t that make them the same as the Smiths or Albertsons? Just some food for thought but if you could clear up the JWG ownership rumor I’ve heard that would be great!

  2. Good points. I started shopping at Whole Grocer under the ownership of Bob Arndt and Melanie Harrice, who hired a great staff and were incredibly generous in giving back to the community. As far as I know, Jeff Rice bought the store from them and owned it with his family until recently. When the store announced in August that it would move west to the old Sunrise location on Highway 89, news coverage mentioned that Rice had formed a partnership with a “small family-run grocery store chain” in Oregon, called Market of Choice. A third-party developer in Oregon, Dickerhoof Properties, was buying the building and planning to lease it to Whole Grocer. While I have never shopped at a Market of Choice, the company is based in Eugene and sounds like Whole Grocer, according to its Wikipedia page.
    I used to work right across the parking lot from Albertsons and shopped there often. I chatted with some of the students on visa about where they were from and such. But they never stayed long enough to get to know them. In contrast, I can name five employees of Whole Grocer off the top of my head.
    One of the best grocery checkers I’ve ever met in Jackson likely came on a visa: Florine! I haven’t seen him in some time and suppose he went back to his native country (Romania, I think).
    A Colorado Springs developer is proposing the Walgreens on Broadway.
    We agree that Jackson does not need another store peddling crap. Hopefully the market will take care of that.

  3. Another chain store in Jackson is absolutely a threat to places like Stone Drug, but a Walgreen’s and its 24 hour pharmacy is a necessity in this town. It may not seem like a big deal to some, but as a father of two young children, its really frustrating to not be able to get a prescription or even an over-the-counter product at 9 o’clock at night with a sick kid at home. If another pharmacy in town wants to stay open 24/7, then a Walgreen’s in not needed, but until then, I’ll shop there, if only sporadically.

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