Supply and demand or price gouging? Coming from a state where hurricanes are a threat for almost half of every year, I know price gouging, this is not it. Price gouging is when you take advantage of a temporary situation where supplies are limited and you increase your prices past the point of fair and reasonable. This is not a temporary situation where a shortage has occurred. This is our everyday reality.
I found myself out of town today in a small place about 50 miles from Williston. A town called Watford City. There are currently two little grocery stores and we went to both today. Knowing that everything is expensive here, I wasn’t expecting much. I’ve been to these stores before. However the prices seem just a bit higher than I realized. An XL bag of shredded cheese (I did not get the weight) was $21.69 and a quart of cream was $10.04. In the second store the cream was $9.99, only a .05 cent difference. The picture shows said quart, the one to the left priced at $5.22 was for the pint. I should also point out, this was a regular grocery store, not a convenient store or quick shop place.
There are lots of theories for this. Supply and demand. Maybe they have to pay the works much more than other grocery stores around the country just to keep employees there. It’s harder to get things here (I don’t buy into that one).
In most cases, competition is a good thing. Typically it naturally would bring prices in line for everyone but here we have a vacuum. A distinct lack of competition. There is a larger grocery store coming to Watford City. Perhaps it will create some of that healthy competition so that people can buy a quart of cream without having to get a second mortgage.
Not everyone here makes oil field wages. There are plenty of people just trying to make it day to day. Those are the people that this hurts. I can absorb it. I don’t like it and it will make me go out of my way to never shop at this particular store again, but I can absorb it if I need to. It’s the people that cannot do that who suffer. They have no other choices. No one is going to drive 60 miles to the next grocery store.
Personally, I’m still praying for that Costco. I heard rumors about one in Minot. Please, please please let that be happening. This just goes to show that not being prepared is my biggest downfall here. Don’t get caught out having to stop for something when your options are limited. In Williston, if you shop the sales, stock up when things are good and learn to use your freezer wisely, you can manage a reasonable grocery budget.
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