I read Frisbie's opinion column Thursday morning and then got on the phone to the four stores he says are still in business in spite of Home Depot coming to Ukiah. I found it hard to believe that a big box did not impact locally owned stores. In my conversation with each business, they all said they had been affected when Home Depot opened. Some lost 10 percent, others 20 percent of business, and all but one said they had to lay people off. One said they had to re-think their marketing strategies to survive. As one person put it, “There are only so many pieces of the pie to go around, so of course it has affected business, we lost some profit.” Another manager said, “Yeah, it's fine to say we're still here, but we are not thriving. We lost business we will never get back, lost employees we could not replace.” Another person said that initially they lost business, but then “service was so bad at Home Depot, that they've gained back most of what they lost” when the store opened. Our area has more than nine lumber businesses and equally as many hardware stores. These do not include the many independently owned plumbing, lighting, and painting stores. All of these would be impacted by any big box store being approved to open business in our county. The issue is not just “driving out” these local stores, but whether they can sustain a profitable business. It's not just about competition and who can survive. This is about all of us making a commitment to sustain our local economy and those businesses that care as much about us, their customers, as they do about their profit. And we do not need more options for shopping. We have enough.

Pamela Brown