loren Eric Swanson: Why I Like Privately-owned Businesses

Monday, November 28, 2005

Why I Like Privately-owned Businesses

Last week as I was savoring a "Black and Tan" from Fenton's Creamery in Oakland, I thought about how I've eaten the same thing here...I mean the exact same ice cream Sundae that I've savored for 36 years. The benefit of being a privately-owned business--especially a family owned business is that they can produce the product they want without having to answer to the fickle share-holder. Shareholders of publically traded companies are always demanding a greater return for their investment. So companies cut back, take a few almonds out of the icecream, use artificial products and additives and relabel the product as "new and improved." Stock prices rise, unloyal share-holders sell their stocks and now we are left with a product that just doesn't taste like it used to. Fenton's Creamery uses all natural products--always has and always will. My sister said it was the best icecream she ever tasted. My mom couldn't believe all the almonds in the toasted almond icecream. The place does a bustling business. I always have had to wait to get a seat. Now this reflection is the type of piece that old-timers write, but that's not the point. I like Wal-mart. I like what they've done to raise the wage of the average worker by having the lowest possible prices. Did you ever think you could buy a color TV for $67? Thank Wal-Mart. My point is this...there is something very attractive about quality executed over time. Think of your favorite food...or favorite park...or favorite beach...or favorite restaurant. Wouldn't you like to think that 35 years from now you could go there and the food would be just as good, the park just as clean and the beach be just as you remembered it?


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