North Tulsa grocer says "Black Friday" bill could hurt small businesses
BY BARBARA HOBEROCK World Capitol Bureau
Friday, February 15, 2013
2/15/13 at 5:46 AM
OKLAHOMA CITY - The owner of a north Tulsa grocery store said a measure making its way through the Legislature could hurt his business.
The Senate Business and Commerce Committee on Thursday passed Senate Bill 550 by Sen. David Holt, R-Oklahoma City. The vote was 5-2, and the bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.
The measure would legalize "Black Friday" and other low-price sales.
Antonio Perez, owner of Gateway Market, 1601 N. Peoria Ave., said he doesn't have the buying power of larger outlets and the measure could hurt his business.
Sen. Jabar Shumate, D-Tulsa, was one of the two votes against the measure in committee.
Shumate said north Tulsa for a long time struggled to get a grocery store. The area had "food deserts" in part because of its high-crime areas, he said.
Small businesses, such as Gateway Market, can't be as competitive on pricing as larger chains such as Walmart.
He said he is all for lowering prices, but small businesses in low income or rural areas can't keep pace.
Sen. Earl Garrison, D-Muskogee, also voted against the measure.
"I think it puts smaller businesses at a disadvantage," he said. "We have a problem in the rural areas getting mom and pops the opportunity to survive."
Big conglomerates are putting the locally owned stores out of business, Garrison said.
Under current law, which was enacted in 1941, retailers must sell products for at least 6 percent more than they paid for it, according to Senate staff members.
A December 2011 attorney general's opinion said state law bars "Black Friday" and other low-price sales, even if they are temporary, according to Senate staff members.
As a result, many retailers, including the largest retailer in the state, are shutting down their "Black Friday" and other low-price sales until Oklahoma's laws are modernized, according to Senate staff members.
SB 550 changes that for all products except for fuel and prescription drugs.
Holt said he was not surprised by the criticism of his measure, saying he knew that alternate voices would be heard.
He said 48 states don't have laws this restrictive.
Holt said he believes those 48 states do have independent grocery stores.
"If a retailer wants to offer low prices that's good for consumers, it's good for our economy, and it reflects a free market decision that retailers should be allowed to make," he said.
Original Print Headline: Grocer says bill could hurt small shops
Barbara Hoberock 405-528-2465