Editorial: A good neighborWhen “big box” retailers enter small towns, there’s often apprehension expressed by the local business community.
When “big box” retailers enter small towns, there’s often apprehension expressed by the local business community.
Will the giant store overpower the existing shops and services, leaving a gutted business district in its wake? And what does that mean for support of organizations and their activities, much less the state of the local economy?
The new Pamida store in Ellsworth offers the promise of being a good neighbor. Its parent company has a foundation which gives a half-million dollars a year to causes in the small communities where they locate. That alone should be comforting in an era when many goods bought by consumers are in the hands of large, impersonal conglomerates.
The store pledges to take a friendly, welcoming approach in its dealings with the local public. For example, store officials are receptive to having groups hold fundraisers on the property with preapproval. Moreover, if products are needed, the store will donate up to $25 worth retail daily. Then too, the store will pay for up to eight hours of time from its employees when such events require volunteers.
Officials already have some attractions involving area residents scheduled. A community art sale is to be held every other month, weather permitting. Vendors are invited to attend craft sales on the premises, along with farm markets and yard sales. The store is also willing to participate in locally originated efforts; it will sponsor a pumpkin carving contest in conjunction with the Ellsworth Chamber of Commerce’s Pumpkin Party in the Park this fall, for example.
Holidays are occasions for Pamida’s community-mindedness to especially shine. For Mother’s Day, children are encouraged to make cards or decorate flower pots at the store to give their moms as gifts. Christmas for Kids is an annual campaign in which the store helps some needy families in cooperation with local food shelves.
The store takes on projects like funding 70 percent of the children’s book program at the Ellsworth Public Library, for instance. It regularly contributes school supplies to students in public and Catholic schools who couldn’t otherwise afford them, as well as sports equipment to Little League programs, playground equipment for parks and more.
Customers will see displays of patriotism in places of prominence when they patronize the store. A tribute to local veterans, featuring past and recent photos of them, occupies an exhibit in the entryway. A large U.S. flag donated by Ellsworth’s American Legion post is hung on an inside front wall, above the checkout counters.
Local businesses have long been behind the well-being of the Ellsworth community. If first impressions are any indication, residents here can be encouraged that Pamida will be no exception.