Local business owners debate national chain threat

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    By TODD BLACKINTON

    Many local, privately owned businesses find that a wide selection of products and attentive customer service are the keys to survival in Utah Valley’s growing economy.

    While some local businesses find it difficult to compete with national stores, others have found their own niche in the market. These businesses welcome growth and competition, which translates into more business for local stores.

    Richard Bradford of the Utah Valley Economic Development Association said the national competition coming into the county is putting a strain on local store owners.

    “It is getting more and more difficult to be an independent retailer,” Bradford said.

    Suzy M. is a women’s clothing store on Center Street in Provo. The store opened 13 years ago. Store manager Kris Nolte said Suzy M.’s customer service is something the franchises cannot offer.

    “We will get on the phone and call people to let them know what we have. I think a lot of the big chain stores can’t do that, whereas we can,” Nolte said.

    Despite the difficulty some businesses are experiencing, Richard Parkinson is optimistic that the growth of the county will benefit his new business.

    Near the end of the year, Parkinson plans to open Magleby’s Fresh, a restaurant that will specialize in gourmet take-out food. This store will copy the original Magleby’s restaurant in Provo, which has been in business for 18 years.

    “I believe national chains coming in and opening up restaurants and retail stores is a good thing for Provo,” Parkinson said. “People will stay here and shop and eat rather that going other places.

    “I also think it shows that there is a big enough community and a big enough money base here, so if we do a good job and offer a great product and great service that people will support us,” he said.

    Parkinson said he is not worried about competing with the national restaurants. He said he thinks they should be worried about his business.

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