As someone who is acutely aware of the importance of shopping local, committing to making at least 90% of her purchases at locally owned businesses in 2015 honestly didn’t seem like that big of a challenge to Amanda Converse. But as she began confronting some of my (necessary and sometimes unnecessary) spending habits, she realized it wasn’t going to be as easy as she thought.
When the gas light in my car came on for the first time this year, I quickly realized I couldn’t just pull over and fill up at any gas station. So, before I ran out of gas, I did some research.
As it turns out, small, independently owned gas stations do still exist in the US, and they, like many locally owned entities challenged by corporations, face many hardships. On average, they buy their product at a higher cost than chains, but generally charge the same price (to capture at least some of the market), which means their profit margins are much lower. Tack onto that the credit card fees for each transaction, and they make even less money.
This is why many of the stations have an alternative profit center, whether it’s a small convenience store, a car wash or a repair center.So, how do you identify an independently owned and locally operated franchise? The first identifier is that they do not have a corporate brand attached to their name. I have been visiting West Main Gas & Car Wash as well as North Street Auto, both in Hyannis, to fill my tank.
The other way I have found to differentiate a locally operated franchise is to notice if they have an auto repair shop attached. The Sunoco, Getty and Gulf stations that have mechanics on site have an owner/operator who lives on Cape Cod.
My second challenge this past month has been to curb my decades-long CVS habit. In addition to filling my prescriptions, CVS provides endless amounts of essentials (and, let’s face it, nonessentials) to my daily life.
This may be the greatest challenge I face all year, so I decided to take it head on. Go cold turkey. I have cut myself off from the ExtraCare coupons. And to my great surprise, it hasn’t been that hard because as I have been preaching for years: everything you can get at a corporate chain, you can also find at a locally owned equivalent.
I have been able to find all of my “necessities” at the Apothecare Pharmacy on West Main Street in Hyannis, and have transferred my prescriptions to the newly opened Whole Health Pharmacy also on West Main Street. And when I fretted to Karryn, the owner/pharmacist at Whole Health about the specific shampoo I use that I have only been able to find at CVS, she placed a special order for me – something a national chain store would likely never do.