A threat to our community

One of the great myths in our society is that big is always better than small. It is a particularly dangerous myth when your society is based on capitalism.

There is no doubt that completely unregulated growth can lead to the creation of monopolies, duopolies, triopolies and various other measures of a shrinkage of competition that can punish the consumer and hurt communities.

For over two years now, we have been writing editorials urging our readers to patronize local stores, arguing that purchasing products via the internet harms our communities. Briefly, that argument can be summed up saying that e-stores don’t pay local taxes, don’t support our nonprofits, and a dollar spent at one of them is a dollar forever lost to Maui. And they don’t employ any of us.

Yes, before the days of e-commerce, there were large chain stores. But they had a brick-and-mortar presence and were participants in our community. Many of them remain today — but they fight an uphill battle against their e-commerce competitors who don’t have all of the taxes and other expenses that go with maintaining a physical storefront in communities. Nor do they have the expense of local employees.

One of the most famous of those chain brands — Sears — is fighting for its existence. It is in Chapter 11 bankruptcy trying to reorganize to survive.

We grew up in a small town where often the only choice for finding a particular product was to hoof it down to the local Sears. If they didn’t have it in stock, you could order it through their catalog. As we moved to slightly bigger communities, there were fully stocked Sears stores like the one here in Kahului.

Our point is simple — if a once-formidable bastion like Sears is threatened by e-stores, you can imagine the challenge Mom-and-Pop stores are facing.

Please put down your mouse and look at the products offered by our local merchants. They are friends and neighbors — and supporters of our community. Let’s see if we can support them this coming holiday season.

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.