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Special Challenges for Independents

Author: Michael Sansolo

The Independent View

Michael Sansolo

Special Challenges for Independents  

 February 12, 2013 


As if you didn't have enough on your plate, IGA operators have a new challenge and it's a big one: saving the financial health of the United States.

Now I know that sounds a little far-fetched and certainly an awful lot to pile on people with already busy lives. But the challenge came from a very respected source and it speaks to the strength and power of IGA operators and all independent retailers.

The request came during the National Grocers Association convention this week in Las Vegas. At the opening session, former Sen. Alan Simpson and former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles outlined the findings of their special bi-partisan commission on the bloated federal budget. The report, released more than two years ago, won wide praise from a range of key politicians in Washington, DC, for its creative approach to mixing broad budget cuts, restructuring of the tax code and an overall call for bi-partisan cooperation.

Of course, it hasn't gone very far. And that led to the special challenge to independent operators.

As Simpson and Bowles detailed, one of the biggest problems in the federal government is the growing divide between the representatives of the two political parties fueled by carefully drawn Gerrymandered districts. Those relatively safe districts, the two explained, have made political primaries the most important elections. In the process, Republicans and Democrats have become increasingly unwilling to work together because cooperation doesn't help them against primary challengers.

To create change, communities need to demand elected officials learn the value of cooperative action and develop a willingness to tackle tough decisions. As Simpson and Bowles said, that will only happen when community leaders start pushing the issue. And in many towns and villages the best community leadership comes from local business leaders—like IGA's independent retailers.

So go figure: you have to deal with competition, demanding shoppers and countless other business decisions. Now you have to fix the government. But as Simpson and Bowles explained, a lack of action will only make the problems worse.

There's an old adage that when you want to get something done you give the task to a busy person because they know how to get results. Sounds like independent grocers have another task on their very busy plates.

Michael Sansolo