Small is good
A Grass Valley bagel shop owner is cooking up a forum that he hopes will take a bite out of spiraling costs for small restaurants and markets.
Stan Meckler, owner of Bubba’s Bagels, sees the informal group as a way for restaurants, markets and other small food retailers to band together and get the best deals on food purchases and services such as insurance and plumbing.
By representing a larger block of business, rather than individual stores, Meckler hopes that the business owners can use their combined strength to get the best costs.
“The purpose of it is to make sure we’re all getting the same prices, same rebates,” Meckler said.
They can also share information on bad check writers, companies that provide bad service, and the costs they pay for coffee and other products. Furthermore they can band together and lobby local government if issues arise, Meckler said.
“It’s like a little trade organization, I guess,” said Meckler. “I’d like to see it become a self-perpetuating kind of thing. As far as I’m concerned, it’s not Stan’s organization, it’s the small food retailers’ organization. It’s up to everybody to make it work.”
Meckler said the group does not plan to elect officers or charge dues. Meckler also wants to avoid issues that apply only to one business – so no lamenting about the cook who skipped work to go to the South Yuba River.
The first meeting is set for 3:30 p.m. on May 22 at Paulette’s Country Kitchen, 11875 Sutton Way.
Saving money is important to the bottom line of any business. But restaurants, facing higher costs in the last year for labor, electricity and insurance, are under pressure to cut costs any way they can, even if it means letting go of a longtime vendor.
Sometimes it’s a difficult decision. But with higher costs, Meckler said he has to be loyal to his bottom line and protect his business and 12 employees. He thought the forum would be a good idea after he tried to get better costs from a major soft drink company. Meckler said the company would not give him the best deal unless he lowered the prices he charged to customers. That got him talking to other business owners and starting the forum.
The food businesses cannot raise their prices to make up for the costs and still remain competitive, Meckler said.
Electricity costs have gone up dramatically in the last year – Meckler said his utility bill has gone up 40 percent. Restaurants and small markets are energy-intensive businesses that can do little about the big costs such as coolers and gas stoves.
Wages have increased as well, as the minimum wage has increased. Even if the businesses pay above the minimum wage for new employees, the higher minimum wage raises the bar.
The cost of workers compensation insurance has also risen considerably. Rates for Paulette’s Country Kitchen have increased 25 percent in the past year, said Paulette Rickard, owner of the restaurant. She would like to lower those costs.
As an individual business owner, you may not have much clout, said Rickard.
u For information on the small food retailers forum, contact Stan Meckler at 272-8590, or e-mail:
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