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Fascism and Big Business by Daniel Guerin

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Товарищ Х on Cleveland's price-gouging grocery stores


Fun for our money is it? Well not so much when the local Marc's chain food store is price-gouging us. I approached one of their corporate wranglers engaged in whip-cracking at the Coventry store in Cleveland Heights, OH today and asked, "Why do we have to pay higher prices here than you charge in all your other Marc's stores." He acknowledged that Marc's charged higher prices in this store, and dissembled with the excuse, "the rent is higher for this store."

Brilliant! The owners of this chain accumulate profits from all the stores they own, they drive those profits up by driving wages down and running an anti-union shop in all their locations, but rents are a separate matter that completely determines prices in each store. Who knew?

I would have thought the fact that the store is a short walk from a 13 storey apartment building that is an old folks warehouse where nearly all of the several hundred tenants, whose average age is nearly 80, scratch out a living on social security, don't drive, can't walk the distance to the next nearest supermarket, and can't afford a $3 bus trip there and back, might have had something to do with it.

I would have thought that seeing several of these old folks in line at this Marc's location near the end of the month with nothing in their cart but a 25lb bag of SeniorChow and a bottle of watered down vodka (old folks who by the way do not own a dog-- so never mind PuppyChow) was an indication that Marc's owners had indeed wrung the last coin from the pockets of this vulnerable customer base.

Had I only known that Marc's owners were already providing us with as much "Fun" as they can for the little bit of money that passes through our hands each month, I would perhaps not have found it necessary to organize a different kind of fun.

-I would not have solicited another supermarket, with lower prices, to provide transportation for our elderly residents to their store.
-I would not have sought solidarity with the workers in their campaign to unionize their workplace.
-I would not have started organizing a boycott of Marc's with the demand for uniform pricing, and union recognition at all Marc's locations.

A social worker informs me that several of her clients have been banned from Marc's for questioning their prices.

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Товарищ Х is a political activist and composer who lives in Cleveland, Ohio.

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