CSUC should shop locally

We hope Chico State officials are rethinking their plan to contract with a corporate industrial supply store to set up shop on campus selling tools, parts and other goods for university use.

The supposed savings, which the university admits haven’t been calculated, are not worth the ill will sure to be wrought from such a deal. Already, some local vendors—who have long provided campus workers with hands-on, specialty services—are vowing to pull their support, monetary and otherwise, from the university.

Over the last decade, the university has gone from an isolationist, ivory tower approach to town-and-gown relations to a close partnership, working with the city and community at large on everything from public safety issues to economic development. Effectively shutting local vendors out of their share of $500,000 in business would be a huge stride backward.

Administrators say that local vendors can still have the university as a customer—if they sell (at a discount) to the middleman on-campus store, and if the corporate vendor can’t offer up comparable products. As one Chico retailer told us, everything sold locally can easily be bought elsewhere.

Even so, many successful Chico businesses buy as much as they can from local sources. They know what it means to the owners’ livelihood. Does the university, arguably Chico’s biggest business, just not get it?

If this deal goes through, local retailers won’t just be out money, the university will lose key partners.