As an opinion writer, it’s a great day when one of my hare brained ideas is made valid by someone with more knowledge on the subject than me.

In today’s Delaware County Daily Times, Chef Anthony Stella offers his opinion of how the new mega Wegman’s food giant opening soon in Concord will affect his little specialty Italian mom & pop grocery store and restaurant in neighboring Chaddsford (Chef Anthony’s Italian Market).

The focus of his writing isn’t on the fate of his business as much as it’s on the advantages of cultivating small neighborhood businesses and their impact on the communities where we live.

Chef Anthony says…

Several studies have shown that when you buy from an independent, locally owned business, rather than nationally owned businesses, significantly more of your money is used to make purchases from other local businesses, service providers and farms – continuing to strengthen the economic base of the community.

I’m reminded of the never ending talk among Chester residents for the need of a super market in our city. I’ve constantly argued that the need isn’t a super market. The real need is a convenient source of good, fresh, affordable food. Most people have found it difficult to separate one from the other.

Instead of a super market owned by complete strangers who suck up tax breaks and other financial incentives, hiring complete strangers to manage their stores, selling brands you find in every other store in the land, why not give the business of providing food to the people who live here.

Chef Anthony says…

Small local businesses are the largest employer nationally and in our community, providing the most jobs to residents.

Local businesses often hire people with a better understanding of the products they are selling and take more time to get to know customers.

Local businesses are owned by the people who live in this community, are less likely to leave, and are more invested in the community’s future.

Instead of taking a full city block to build a super market, designate a city block of storefronts owned by local people who sell a grocery item. Imagine Avenue of the States from 6th to 7th Street with a family owned butcher, baker, dairy, fruit and vegetable store, fish market, and general store – even if it’s Dollar General.  Give qualified local people incentives to open these stores to serve the community who needs it most.  The rest of the block would thrive as other small businesses would want to be on that block because that’s where the people come everyday for food.

Chef Anthony says…

Where we shop, where we eat and haves fun – all of it makes our community home.

Our one-of-a-kind businesses are an integral part of the distinctive character of our community.

Chester doesn’t need a super market. What we do have is a near perfect example of what we need. First, Sam & Sam Meat Market, right across the street in Upland, is a designated grocery store. He only sells food. Okay, there’s a half aisle with cleaning products and paper goods, but when you compare that to the typical super market selling lawn chairs, greeting cards, and 52 varieties of dog food, you really aren’t going to feed a family on that.  Chester also has Fare & Square. Philabundance has been a friend of Chester forever, and they only sell groceries without the luxury of the expert butchering going on at Sam & Sam.

Our mayoral candidates talk about creating jobs and small businesses. Putting together a business district based on groceries seems like a no brainer to me. We’ve got Widener’s Small Business Development Center and Entrepreneur Works ready to take on the task of preparing small business owners and providing access to micro and small business funding.

If independently owned specialty food stores continue to work in all the cramped boroughs in New York City that physically can’t support a huge super market, it surely can work in Chester if we try.

Chef Anthony says…

Entrepreneurs and skilled workers are more likely to invest and settle in communities that preserve their one-of-a-kind businesses and distinctive character.

For those of you still convinced super markets are better for a community than good local merchants, tell that to Brookhaven when Pathmark closes its doors in the next month or two. I won’t bring up the Bottom Dollar fiasco. Wouldn’t want to stir any more anger around here.