Is Fred Meyer Shopping Local?

fred-meyer.jpgIs shopping at Fred Meyer considered shopping locally? That’s the question I’m pondering right now as the Sustainable Business Network of Portland is busy promoting its Celebrate the Season 2007: Buy Local Week Dec. 1-9. The idea here is obviously to get you to put your buying dollars back into the local economy – the SBNP states that by doing so you can have “out of every $100 spent with a locally owned business, $43 of that $100 stays in the local economy, while only $13 stays here when you buy from a non-locally owned chain store.”

The last part of that statement is where I get a little hung up. Fred Meyer was at one time owned locally of course. Wikipedia states the company was founded here in 1922. This of course changed in 1999 via the merger with Kroger out of Cincinnati, OH. Kroger still maintains a Fred Meyer division office here in Portland. It states in this decision that “the company believes in operating divisions under banners that have strong local ties and brand equity. Throughout our history, as the company has made strategic acquisitions of strong local operations, we have followed the philosophy of keeping the merchandising decisions closest to the customer.”

So the question is thus: is shopping at Fred Meyer, with its strong local ties and division headquarters still here in Portland, considered shopping local? I’m definitely on the fence on this one (my wife thinks it isn’t) so I’d love to hear some opinions.

14 Comments so far

  1. Lelo (unregistered) on November 28th, 2007 @ 10:27 am

    I think when I ask this question, it’s more along the lines of, is this the best decision I can make if I’m trying to support and buy local? In Portland we have lots of options, and while I could make the case that FM “is” or “isn’t”, it’s really more of a question of how far along the spectrum are they, and do I have other options? Truly, I’d rather my dollars go to mom and pop businesses in which I don’t have to ask these questions at all, or at businesses that I know are **truly** locally based and support my same values, like New Seasons. But it’s a spectrum, and while I try to make good decisions, there are also times I shop at Fred Meyer.

  2. DC Rahe (unregistered) on November 28th, 2007 @ 10:48 am

    When considering to choose local for groceries, how about Thriftway or Zupan’s? We at strongly support to Choose Local businesses first when shopping not just for holiday shopping, but all year-round. Show you support of over 800 businesses by getting your own Choose Local Card. Cardholders get instant discounts from Choose Local businesses. At we are all about locally owned businesses.

  3. dieselboi (unregistered) on November 28th, 2007 @ 11:31 am

    I am with Lelo in that it is a two way street. See, we get gift cards from relatives and one can’t redeem a Freddy’s gift card at the local farmer’s market or boutique, so we hit up Freddy’s for stables like towels or soup stock or soap or a toothbrush. Those items that New Seasons may have, but it will obviously be less expensive at Freddy’s.

  4. The Guilty Carnivore (unregistered) on November 28th, 2007 @ 11:35 am

    Sometimes I just need to buy Claussen pickles, apple sauce cups for my daughter’s lunchbox, and a box of Cheerios, and not feel like I’ve been anally violated. Whether or not Fred Meyer – or Winco or Safeway – is local never crosses my mind in the least.

    Isn’t any company that employs people that live in the area local to some extent? What does local mean? The statement “..only $13 stays here when you buy from a non-locally owned chain store” is pretty loaded. What about the wages it pays the employees? The payroll taxes? The permits, levies, and other pay-to-play fees?

    Because I use tons of soy sauce and French fleur de sal or citrus or avocados that has no analogous local counterpart, does that make me a bad person? And how do we know for certain that a local company is doing everything to source items from local purveyors themselves? I doubt Big Town Hero, which one would consider local”, buys their cold cuts from Viande.

  5. Murray (unregistered) on November 28th, 2007 @ 1:00 pm

    I wish I could afford to do ALL of my shopping at Zupan’s. However that’s not very realistic.

  6. Jack (unregistered) on November 28th, 2007 @ 1:10 pm

    The question, with regard to sustainability, is not particularly useful. If sustainable shopping choices means buying local (which is easily debatable), then it matters more which products you are buying. The shopper would need to purchase only those local products (local sources)no matter what store they came from. The name of the store or its local ownership is less important. I would say that FM is local because its down the street, and it’s up to the consumer to purchase wisely.

  7. Nick (unregistered) on November 28th, 2007 @ 1:35 pm

    Hmmm…and shopping with Nike is totally local too, ’cause they’re based in Washington County? :)

    There are several levels of what could be considered ‘local’. Fred Meyers is owned by a company that is NOT local and is a bit of a large corporation. I don’t think that will cut it in the ‘local’ dept.

  8. Steve (unregistered) on November 28th, 2007 @ 2:00 pm

    Wanting to buy at a locally-owned store is kind of a weird fetish. (Locally-produced products I understand.)

    Wherever Fred Meyer’s net profit goes*, the vast majority of the revenue above and beyond the cost of goods sold stays in the community in the form of union wages, benefits and pensions.

    All other things being equal for non-local products, I’d much rather buy at a union shop like Freddy’s than a locally-owned non-union shop like Zupan’s or New Seasons.

    *Net profit in the grocery industry is typically 1%-2% of the shelf price; it’s higher on the non-grocery side.

  9. Carl Joiner (unregistered) on November 28th, 2007 @ 4:05 pm

    Isn’t the wife always right? So why ask?

    Allegedly to prove her wrong by a village vote.

  10. Nino (unregistered) on November 28th, 2007 @ 5:18 pm

    Interesting mix of opinions so far…expected :)

    I can’t say yet how I feel on it. I know when I’m shopping there I feel like I’m doing the local thing because of knowing of Freddy’s roots. When I get home though and unload groceries I wonder if I should have instead hit up New Seasons for my needs.

  11. Dustbunny (unregistered) on November 28th, 2007 @ 5:58 pm

    Do the Fred Meyer stores (or Kroger) still give any $$$ to the Fred Meyer Foundation? Because that’s an Oregon-based charity that donates money to the local community.

    Apart from all that, I heart Freddies because their rotisserie chicken is really tasty :)

  12. Steve (unregistered) on November 29th, 2007 @ 12:53 am

    They don’t give to the Fred Meyer Trust, but they facilitate customer and employee donations to it. They do about a million a year in direct corporate donations.

    They do not fund the much larger Meyer Memorial Trust.

  13. Robb (unregistered) on November 29th, 2007 @ 4:38 pm

    Interesting comments.

    I also agree that the numbers – 13% vs. 43% – may not make a lot of sense, and may not be correct, either. I’m going to check out the SBNP’s methodology, but here are some objections:

    * The part of the money that goes to the owners is the _profit_ from a business.

    * A business’s profit margin, after _all_ expenses is perhaps 10%. Often less, rarely more. How does this square with the 13% and 43% numbers?

    * Consider also that these numbers are based only on where the owners are. That’s strange:

    * I don’t see how one can make these kinds of claims because each store will have different mixes of locally and non-locally produced items.

  14. George Plizinotski (unregistered) on December 5th, 2007 @ 2:55 pm

    Each store will have different mixes of locally and non-locally produced items. Simple fix.Old school ways. Get to know your Butcher, Fisherman, and local craftsman or women. Know when items are harvested by season, and grow in YOUR garden what you love most. This may require a glasshouse in our region, and the organic vegatables will flurish. Then again you may need\
    a degree in entomology to keep the pests away, but hey their edible too…

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