Not a Local Business? Well, That Doesn’t Matter….

Costco and Whole Foods Market Support Local With Good Corporate Citizenship

I’ve spent a lot of time looking into how large superstore chains can hurt the economy. From predatory pricing to poorly compensated employees, I decided early on that there isn’t much to like about these conglomerates. They end up doing much more to hurt the local economies surrounding them than helping. Or so I thought….

9512021_sIt is true. There are some conglomerates that will never be good corporate citizens in their local economies. I shudder at the thought of giving them business, but why not? They are local, right? And they do employ my friends, family and neighbors, right?

Yes. But in order to improve their reputation, they need to be active in improving their citizenship status within their communities.We’ve seen examples of this in a couple of our local superstores: Costco and Whole Foods Market.

How do they do it?

Being Too Generous To Their Employees

Back in 2005, Wall Street continually faulted Costco CEO Jim Sinegal of “being too generous to employees.” This was, and continues to be worn as a badge of honor by Sinegal and Costco, and their customers take note, staying loyal to Costco “because they like that low prices do not come at the workers’ expense.” As Sinegal puts it, “this is not altruistic. This is good business.”

Supporting Local Vendors

11259873_sWhole Foods Market has a track record of supporting local companies and selling local products in their stores. While becoming a vendor for Whole Foods Market isn’t an easy task, the process is simplified and can become lucrative for both parties. They are also pretty open about their sourcing efforts in some cases, like this one in Hawaii.

Working To Strengthen Their Community

Even further, Whole Foods Market touts what they call their Commitment to Society. One of the tenets of this commitment is Community Giving which provides a framework that any conglomerate can follow to give back to their communities.

Another tenet which is most impressive is their overt financial support by way of their Local Producer Loan Program. These loans employ rates that rival SBA rates (currently between 5% and 9%). Have a look!

What I Like About Them

The very practice of buying local is intended to strengthen and bolster the local economy. With the support that Costco and Whole Foods Market provide to individuals and their communities, these companies fall within the buying local ecology. I support such companies when local stores can’t provide a job for my nephew or don’t have what I am looking for. If my nephew can’t find a job at a local small business, I’ll send him over to Costco. If I’m going to buy something, I’ll always buy local instead—but if my local grocer doesn’t have the cut of meat or particular vegetable that I am looking for, Whole Foods Market might. And if they do, they probably got it from a local vendor.

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