Discount food retailers such as So Low and Mike's Discount Foods, which sell foods close to their expiration date or with slightly damaged packaging, are seeing more middle-income customers as increasing food costs price shoppers out of traditional grocers.
Ed Pearson, founder and manager of a new organic food store called The Market at Cutler Mills, works hard to provide every department his customers need on a compact scale. Besides Whole Food outlets, Pearson's 8,000-square-foot store is the largest organic and natural food market in Rhode Island, he says. "The independent retailers have the advantage of being more nimble, making changes in their operation," the Food Marketing Institutes's Bill Greer said.
On June 25, General Mills started to pack less product into boxes of Cheerios, Wheaties and other cereal brands. Although the company reduced its wholesale prices, the end prices remain in the hands of the retailer. The result will be a "small, single-digit price increase," a spokeswoman for the company said, but prices have historically jumped by 12% or more in similar circumstances.
Small businesses can benefit from public relations, that is getting their names in the paper or other mainstream media. The trick is to find an inexpensive way of achieving press recognition. Entrepreneurs can go through PR agencies, or with a little research, tackle the job themselves.
Both the Federal Reserve Board and Congress are proposing changes that would restrain credit card company charges that have angered both lawmakers and consumer groups. Many consumers remain shocked and upset by the fees they're seeing on their bills, but the companies say their policies are more fair than they used to be. "My message to credit card companies has been clear: Abusive and unfair credit card practices must end -- period," says Senate Banking Committee Chair Christopher Dodd, D-Conn.