Time for ‘Small town franchise citizenship guidelines?’

RMG Editor Evan Matthews

by GOAT staff

A Home Depot truck pulled into the new Valemount Tim Horton’s franchise to drop off what appeared to be its dry wall shipment.

Obviously there’s no Home Depot in Valemount, though we do have a Home Hardware. Without going down the cliché “big businesses with no local roots are bad” road, this is definitely an example of how corporations can be parasitic in small rural environments.

It’s a reason why the “shop local” idea gains momentum. Ideally, local businesses buy and sell local goods, promoting local economy.

The Home Depot and Tim Horton’s example is not necessarily the most blatant, as Tim Horton’s purchasing from a larger supplier in order to get a better deal is something many local business owners can likely understand.

But there are other places we see this.

Many community newspapers are dying because of a lack of advertising dollars flowing in. The Tumbler Ridge News is the most recent example of a community newspaper closing its doors. Two papers — one in Chetwynd and one in Dawson Creek — closed before Tumbler Ridge.

I think about our valley, and a company like Telus.

If the average monthly residential bill is $50 — which is likely on the low end — Telus is sucking out $3-million annually from the Robson Valley, and that’s without even mentioning commercial charges.

Yet, guess how many advertising dollars Telus spends in local publications? $0 is the answer.

Yes, a company like Telus comes in to provide us a service we might not otherwise have. But without local people, there would be no need for the service these companies provide. It’s a symbiotic relationship.

If Telus spent even $500 a month on advertising its services in The Rocky Mountain Goat News — a half page advertisement in one issue per month — that would equate to $6,000 annually. What is $6,000 to a large corporation? Not much, but to a small business? It’s quite a lot.

The National Hockey League isn’t willing to share exactly how much its TV ads cost, but we know TV rights are expensive, and Telus advertises during the NHL playoffs. For context, CBS charged $5 million for ads during the 2016 National Football League playoffs, or $166,666 per second, according to USA Today.

In fairness, other corporations have been on the opposite end of this spectrum — companies who advertise locally like Kinder Morgan — even if it is to win over local people on what could potentially be a controversial idea. A company like Kinder Morgan is working hard to play its cards right.

And Tim Horton’s can’t be excluded either, as it’s already purchased local advertising as well.

But this conversation doesn’t have to be us versus them. It doesn’t have to be big outside corporation versus local business — the situation doesn’t necessarily have to be zero-sum game — big business can still add value locally.

There are local companies that don’t necessarily spend money locally, so what can be done about it?

Maybe local business owners can create a task force, of sorts, in partner with the Province.

Having business owners pair up with politicians could lead to the formation and legislation of “Small town franchise citizenship guidelines.”

If businesses want to set up shop in small towns, they should have minimum requirements to kick back into local economy and/or community projects.

Editor’s note: The sentence “Tim Horton’s can’t be excluded either, as it’s already purchased local advertising as well,” was added to the online version of this editorial. While it was the Home Depot/Tim Horton’s example to spark the “small town franchise citizenship guideline” conversation, which moved into the “advertising” conversation, The Goat wants to provide fair context.

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