Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Be Afraid of Big Organics, Be Very Afraid.

In addition to Big Pharma, we have to watch out for Big Organics. I shit you not. This is prompted by the Wild Oats/Whole Foods merger that's on the table. As Tom Philpott says on Grist,

In defending the merger from a challenge by the Federal Trade Commission, Whole Foods claimed it faces plenty of competition from conventional grocers such as Kroger and Safeway, as well as superstores such as Wal-Mart -- all of which are scrambling to grab a piece of the growing organic pie.

To me, this isn't a problem specific to the grocery industry or even Big Organics. This is more of a problem with how our economy is set up. We reward stores that resemble the corporate structure, even if they're advocating something that theoretically liberal. Consumers look for chain stores because that's what's familiar. We really don't give much credit or support to independent retailers. Instead, it's not enough to be a good corner store. If you have a good business model, you aren't supposed to inspire other store owners in other cities, you're supposed to form a franchise and open up your own stores in other cities. We're far too dependent on the brand name.

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