In a town like Upland where the nearest Walmart is more than 20 minutes away, “convenient” is not a word thrown around much.
Even the nearest stores such as Dollar General and the Walnut Creek Country Market located less than a mile from Taylor’s campus can be inconvenient for students who don’t have access to a car.
However, the addition of the Reade Ave. Market (RAM) this fall has provided a much-needed level of convenience for students.
Selling products from food to personal hygiene items and medicine, the RAM is perfect for students who suddenly run out of shampoo or are in need of a late-night snack.
However, students with access to a car, or who are friends with a driver, often compare the prices of the Reade Ave. Market with those of the same products at the Dollar General and choose the slightly less convenient Dollar General in order to save a few dollars.
A package of Oreos costs $6.25 at the RAM and $3 at Dollar General. Similarly, a bottle of shampoo costs $5.05 at the RAM and $3 at Dollar General.
Nate Haugh, director of dining at Taylor, explains that the items in the RAM are supplied by a vendor in Michigan. Because Taylor has such a low buying power, the prices attached to these products are slightly higher than those found at a Walmart or Dollar General.
“The entire purpose of (the RAM) was to make it convenient for students, to make it easy,” Haugh said. “Dollar General is not very far, but if you don’t have a car you have to hoof it. We’re not trying to make money, we’re just trying to make it easy and give students the ease of getting the things that they need.”
Another consideration besides convenience and price in choosing where to shop is support of local businesses.
One study done by the Institute for Local Self Reliance revealed that a typical grocery store experiences a sales drop of about 30% after a Dollar General opens near it.
Although Tom Lafferty, the sales director at the Walnut Creek Country Market, has not noticed that decline, he still highlights the importance of a community supporting local businesses.
“It is important that small towns attract businesses willing to invest in markets that are underserved,” Lafferty said. “This circulates dollars in the local economy. It is equally important that the community attempt to support them.”
Lafferty also cites a possible correlation between last year’s attempt at getting a Starbucks on campus and the closing of local coffee shop Joe on the Go as a reason to shop locally.
At The Echo, we believe that mindfulness when making shopping decisions is important. Though lower price or convenience may be your primary goal in shopping, a consideration for how your dollar impacts a local economy is an essential part of being a good steward of the resources given to us.
For some, choosing a cheaper price takes priority. Others rely simply on what they can access with the most convenience.
However, for all of us, being aware of how our decisions impact others in our communities is a large factor in maintaining environments that are welcoming and supportive of all.