From the Editor: Nichols will be missed, but we must go on

February 28, 2012

By ROB ALWAY

mcp editor

 

SCOTTVILLE – I was saddened to hear about the impending closing of Nichols Drug Store. Nichols has basically been Scottville’s anchor store for many years and it will be difficult to get used to downtown Scottville without Nichols.

 

The other day I spoke with Mary and Jim Nichols, who own the store along with Jim’s sister, Christy Buck, and their mother, Loretta Nichols. It was an emotional discussion and I felt as if we were mourning the loss of a loved one; in many ways we were.

 

My first memories of Nichols is going into the store when I was a kid. I grew up in Amber Township, a few miles out of town, near Hackert (Crystal) Lake. I would ride my bicycle into town every once in awhile and Nichols was part of the stopping places.

 

I was an avid 45 rpm record collector, later becoming a disc jockey in middle school and high school. Nichols was where I would normally buy my records. Later, I would buy cassette tapes and CDs there.

 

Nichols Drug Store was started by Tom and Loretta Nichols in the 1950s – Jim told me that the building that houses the store has had a pharmacy in it since World War I. They were pretty typical of those Scottville business families of my growth, serving their community and teaching their children to do the same. Those lessons of people like the Nichols have been instilled on people like myself, who are now part of our area’s business community.

 

Twenty years from now I will remember Nichols Drug Store. But, what I will remember most is the service the Nichols family has given to our community. They are truly business leaders who have put themselves above others for the greater good of growing and sustaining this community.

 

The closing of Nichols Drug Store is not a result of a failing business culture in Scottville but rather the result of an insurance industry that favors mail-order pharmacies as well as large chain pharmacies dominating the market. The other goods sold at a store are priced based on sales. When the pharmacy business declines, the sale of other goods decline as well, resulting in higher wholesale prices and smaller sales margins.

 

It’s a shame but it’s not because of Scottville. It’s because we live in a culture where shoppers would rather go to the box stores rather than supporting their neighbors. Yes, the box stores can sell at lower prices because they are bigger. They can purchase mass quantities and strong arm manufacturers to drop their wholesale prices. North American shoppers have flocked to these stores and essentially sold their souls.

 

Yes, those box stores can sell us cheap stuff and they give us jobs, low paying jobs. The pressure they have put on American manufacturers has forced those manufacturers to go overseas and close their plants in the U.S. So, have the box stores given us cheaper prices and more jobs? No. They have meant our standard of living has been reduced.

 

What can we do to prevent other stores like Nichols Drug Store from closing? We can start by shopping local, especially with groceries. Locally owned grocery stores include Bonser’s of Custer and Best Choice Market in downtown Ludington. Shop N Save of Pere Marquette Township is owned by a northern Michigan company and of course Meijer is owned by a Grand Rapids company.

 

While I am not thrilled about box stores I will say at least the Meijer family gives back to western Michigan through philanthropy, improving our area’s standard of living.

 

Our area also has smaller markets such as Northside Market at the corner of Washington Avenue and Bryant Street and the Fountain Market in Fountain. We also have seasonal farm markets including Orchard Markets in Pere Marquette and Free Soil townships and Grassa’s Farm Market in Amber Township.

 

Eventually a grocery market is also supposed to open in downtown Scottville in the old laundromat building. In my opinion, in order for this business to be a success it will need to stand apart from the larger box stores by being a special experience, have a clean environment and sell unique, healthy and locally grown foods. It will also need the support of the community in order to be successful.

 

While I love history, we can’t live in the past. What is done is done and our society is constantly changing. Thank you to the Nichols family for your many years of service to our community. And, thank you to those who are coming into our community, ready for a new chapter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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