“Market forces” was the headline of the June 20 front-page story regarding Great Harvest Bread Company owner Cathy Yen’s announcement that she might close the store by year’s end. On page 4 of the same issue, Wednesday Journal Publisher Dan Haley carries water for Ms. Yen. He opens his commentary with “The Village of Oak Park, top to bottom, swears it is pro-business.”
What prompted this? Red Hen Bakery, a Chicago bakeshop that produces bread that has great taste and something that I really like – a crisp crust – has been given the opportunity to sell bread at our Farmers’ Market.
Off and on for years, I have gone to Great Harvest Bread Company to buy bread. I always ask if they have something with a nice crunchy crust. The response has been something like, “We don’t make bread with a hard crust.” I usually make a purchase, but I don’t make a habit of shopping at Great Harvest because I rarely finish the loaf I buy. I tire of the squish, so it grows mold, and I toss it.
If “Market forces” refers to business competition, Red Hen offers a type of bread that I enjoy. If Great Harvest offered breads with crisp crusts and interesting interiors, I’d shop there – particularly because of their admirable involvement with our community, something that Mr. Haley rightly points out. I believe in supporting local, personal businesses. That’s why I look forward to shopping at our Farmers’ Market.
Locally grown food. Locally produced products. Locally grown flowers. Choices. Local does not and cannot restrict us to Oak Park suppliers. In the case of Red Hen, we are given the opportunity to buy wonderful breads that don’t conflict with what is offered by Great Harvest. If Great Harvest sold their breads at the market, I wouldn’t buy them. I’d still go elsewhere to buy what I’d rather eat.
As to Dan Haley’s commentary, I’m curious what “pro-business” means to him. He admits his connection to Cathy Yen. He admits his son’s employment by Great Harvest. I get his personal connections, and embrace the concept that what is “personal is political.” But I’m uncomfortable with the publisher of a local newspaper claiming to be “pro-business” while promoting what is in his personal and professional interest.
Let me suggest that the Oak Park Farmers’ Market has proven itself to be “pro-consumer” by offering the variety of local products that I get to consider over the course of the summer.