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We are writing in response to Diane Weir’s letter attacking our store for not being open on Sundays. We normally have a strict personal and professional policy against indirect communication; however, since we cannot find any listing for Ms. Weir, we are forced to answer here.
If Ms. Weir from Warren and Connecticut had chosen to come by or call to talk to us directly, we would have explained to her that we were open Sundays for the first four years we owned Sweet Pea. In those four years, we never made money on Sundays; in other words it cost us more to be open than to be closed! We always did it as a service to our customers.
However, with the recession, which I am fairly sure hit Warren and Connecticut too, we could no longer afford to stay open on Sundays. This did not mean that we took all those Sundays off. All of the renovations and improvements we have made to Sweet Pea we have done ourselves, mostly on Sundays. We work 60 to 80 hours a week and having some Sundays off is very important to our family. We are sorry that you were “appalled” at our hours, but believe us, they are necessary. As for your crack about us being a “so-called health food store,” you will need to come and have that discussion face to face. Instead of making digs and cracks in the newspaper, why not come to us directly with any suggestions or complaints? After all, we are the only ones who can correct any problems.
The second issue we have is with The Valley Reporter. Has your paper sunk so low as printing personal attacks against local businesses? First the hardware store, then us. Do you really feel that it is appropriate for the only newspaper in The Valley? Do you really want to sell more papers through divisiveness and gossip?
After reading this letter, our approach to this issue was a bit different than Ms. Weir from Connecticut and Warren. We called the paper to speak directly to the editor and explained our displeasure. We were told by the editor that, yes, they should have called us about the letter, and yes, they should have checked the facts in the letter but they didn’t have enough time. It used to be that if you could not check the facts, you did not print. We were also told that by printing these letters, it gets the conversation going. Just because all of the major media outlets have gone from reporting news and facts to entertainment and gossip, does The Valley Reporter have to follow? Do you really just want to sell more papers through gossip and dividing the community? We have the utmost respect for Al Benjamin, both personally and professionally, but you really need to get off this slippery slope or before you know it, you will be tapping our phones.
For what it’s worth, we have some advice for customers of local businesses. If you have a problem with a local business, talk directly with the owner; we are all here most of the time. This is the only way you can make change. We are approaching seven billion people on our planet; if we cannot speak directly to each other, we are in trouble. To all of our customers who shop with us every day and have stopped by to voice their support, thank you, it means a lot.
Carin Fredette and Tom Clements are the owners of Sweet Pea Natural Market.