Eugene Paslov: Corporate irresponsibility

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After almost 80 years in Carson City, the Safeway grocery store is leaving. It is a decision the Safeway Corporation should reconsider. However, it's not likely they will.

My wife and I have shopped at Safeway for more than 26 years. We know and like the checkout personnel, the stock boys, the butchers, bakers, and deli staff (through its various iterations over the years). Many we knew by name. We liked and respected all of them. We never had a bad experience with anyone. Now we are confronted with a faceless corporation closing down a key city business establishment when our city can least afford to lose it.

The departure of Safeway was little discussed and barely noted in the press. We learned about it through reporting in the Nevada Appeal, which was helpful. However there was precious little substantive information about why a major corporation like Safeway would bail out of Carson City. Apparently, the problem was the inability of the parties to come to an agreement about the lease. I'm not convinced there's much merit in that explanation. Safeway is a large corporation; they have excellent negotiators; or they could have found other buildings in Carson City (we have some vacancies, you know); or they could have built their own building. Quibbling over a lease agreement hardly seems justification for withdrawing from a city after 80 years of business.

What I'm afraid really happened is that Safeway looked at Carson City, made a business decision that it wasn't going to be worth continuing operating the business or competing in our community. They pulled the plug. They will move the personnel, who are willing, to other sites. Others may just end up unemployed. Very difficult. Senior citizens in the area around Safeway will be badly hurt. They are currently able to walk to Safeway for their daily shopping. Now they'll have to find alternatives.

Yes, corporations must make a profit. But corporations also have a responsibility to the communities in which they exist. Safeway always appeared to be thriving during the years we shopped there. Quality was good. Prices were competitive. Service was outstanding. What appeared to be missing in the end was corporate responsibility. City leaders are working very hard to revitalize our city. Safeway corporate leaders should have asked what they could do to keep their store a viable profit making enterprise while also exercising corporate responsibility in helping the city improve the quality of life for all of its citizens. They did not.

Safeway made a callous business decision. They should explain and apologize for their utter disregard for the community they are leaving.

• Eugene Paslov is a board member of the Davidson Academy at the University of Nevada, Reno, and the former Nevada state superintendent of schools.


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