To the Editor:
This is a copy of a letter sent to the owner of Bunch of Grapes.
I read with interest on the article “Shopping locally matters greatly to businesses and to you” [MVTimes, December 28, 2011]. It makes mention that supporting local stores creates jobs. Yet, most local retail clerk jobs pay $10 an hour, which makes it tough to pay $1,200 monthly rent, plus utilities, for a small, one-bedroom apartment on the Island. Most store owners own their own homes.
Secondly, shopping locally helps the environment. How? The article goes on to say that online retailers have built a business plan around avoiding paying the sales tax. No, online retailers do not pay the sales tax, as that responsibility is loaded onto the customer. There are other reasons given, but they are full of generalities, like the beauty of living on our beautiful Island and supporting entrepreneurship.
Let me expound on the real facts. The new book “The Litigators” by John Grisham retails at your store at the list price of $28.95, plus the sales tax. Amazon.com sells it for $14.46, no sales tax, and free delivery. The book “Locked On” by Tom Clancy retails at list price of $28.95, and yet Amazon.com sells it for $15.74 with no sales tax and free delivery. Retail stores pay clerks so little that most of us have to maintain two jobs just to survive.
Why don’t local retailers discount some of their prices from the list price? No, they demand top dollar, and there are rarely sales, as compared to retailers on the Internet or even on the mainland. Regular gas on the mainland goes for $3.20 a gallon, whereas it goes for $4.20 on the Island. Does it really cost a $1 a gallon to transport it to the Island? Locals do not have a choice with gasoline for our cars, but there are plenty of choices to purchase items off Island to secure more realistic prices on other products.
We may be surrounded by water, but the problem is not the local consumers. Work on cutting the charges of the Steamship Authority, partly caused by having an excessive number of staff, and halt the greed of the local landlords, and then you can lower your prices to be more realistic in today’s competitive retail trade.
Michael J. Bader