Dear Editor:

As a previous employee of the IGA in Okanagan Falls, I would like to respond to James Miller’s editorial “Shop local, keep stores” (Herald/Courier, June 5).

When I joined the IGA in 2007, I was immediately impressed by the staff and the camaraderie they enjoyed with customers; customer service was “first and foremost,” but there was always time for casual conversations about family, vacations, etc. and laughter was commonplace in the store. Customers felt welcome.

After the store changed hands in 2013 and corporate in Vancouver took over the operation, the attitude that had prevailed for the years that I was there changed drastically.

Staff were told to greet the customers, but no “visiting” with them.

A number of our regular customers stopped coming because of the atmosphere. Yes, most of the prices were higher than in Penticton, (and they still are), but they came to do their shopping because of the staff and the welcome they received. Our nice, friendly rural store was gone.

Miller states that the people of Okanagan Falls “have nobody to blame but themselves.”

I beg to differ; there are a lot of seniors in the Falls who are on a limited income (me included) and I have to make my money go as far as it can. People comparison shop for everything from cars to toasters to toilet paper; why should it be any different for groceries?

And I would venture to say that Miller is no different from the rest of us.

I realize that business is business, and the bottom line is, unfortunately, the only one that counts. I do feel for those in the area who will surely be more affected by this closure than others, i.e. those that do not have access to a vehicle as well as the employees who will be out of a job, but for Miller to put the blame squarely on the shoulders of the residents in the town is unrealistic and simply not true.

As for his suggestion that we should at least buy lottery tickets, tobacco and newspapers there, the purchase of those three items would do little to make a difference in their bottom line.

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