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Wed Feb 20, 2013, 08:37 PM

Why "mom and pop" stores are as bad as big-box stores

As background: I used to live where this "small" business does business. Their prices are the highest in that whole city, and if you watch this video, you'll see that there is no difference whatsoever between the owner's views and those of Walmart:

http://www.khastv.com/news/local/Minimum-wage-hike-leaves-small-business-owners-fearful-191480801.html

The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. Obama wants to raise it to $9.00. It's a cost that scares a lot of small business owners.

"It's just going to reflect because we'll have to raise our prices," said Allen's Superstore owner Georgene Allen.

Georgene Allen is among many small business owners who say raising the minimum wage won't do any good.

"It's going to hurt us I believe, financially," Allen said.

Did I mention that they already have the highest prices in the city, and always have, long before anyone knew who Obama was?

"Also, with Obamacare coming into effect, it's another thing we have to consider and it's really going to affect how we operate," Allen said.

Allen's doesn't provide health care for their employees. So guess who does? That's right--just like Walmart.

The difference between Walmart and Allen's is that the Walmart store is clean, and Walmart actually has some Made In USA stuff interspersed among the Chinese crap.

Lest you think other small stores are any better, consider my experience today. Every time I go to our town's only little grocery store, I'm pleasant and friendly toward its proprietor...who responds by constantly trying to argue with me. Normally, I nod and smile, until today, when my mother accompanied me into the store.

We were talking about how hard it had been for my mom to endure the last blizzard/power outage we had. She was defending the fact that the local power company had gone home for 8 hours and left entire towns without heat or power. While I realize it was a blizzard, the fact remains that the power company workers are paid to work in such conditions, AND they have heated trucks. This nasty woman started mocking my mother and me in front of another customer, saying we were "complaining" and that it was more important for healthy men to go home, than for people like my sickly, elderly mother to be cared for.

Still trying to be nice, I said that we could have just gone out to the car to get warm, except we can't open the garage door with no power (you can't run a car in a closed garage). She said, "Get a generator." I reminded her that I can't start a motor with a pull-cord, as she knows because she's aware that I have an electric lawnmower for just that reason. She just shrugged and started bitching about us to the other woman in the store again.

When we went outside, my mother started to cry at this woman's utter heartlessness, and we've vowed never to go back there again.

In case you haven't guessed, this bitch is a right-winger.

So is Georgene ("Waah, don't raise the minimum wage!") Allen, who routinely sells anti-Obama T-shirts and greeting cards, according to my friends living in that area.

It might be just as well that this happened...the other day, I went to get some eggs there, and found that this nasty woman turned all the cartons around so you couldn't read the expiration dates. The eggs had expired 3 weeks ago. She's always pulling stunts like that, which is why I always read expiration dates before buying any of her overpriced crap.

I just realized today that, for 5 years, I've been kissing up to this woman, trying to be nice, when it's her job to be nice to me and every other customer.

Between Allen's and their filthy stores...and this small-town right-wing hillbilly who misspells every handwritten sign she puts in her window...and the small-town mechanic who cheated me out of $1000, I've had it.

And I realized, this is precisely why big-box stores drive small businesses out of business. You can't treat customers like crap while overcharging them, then expect them to come back for more abuse. People will, at some point, think, "Screw you!" and shop elsewhere.

But instead of learning this lesson, these small business owners keep acting as if it's 1965, and that they own the town because there's no shopping alternatives out there.

There are. From now on, I only do business at places that are either BBB accredited, or have a corporate headquarters that will make things right when an employee does wrong. I mean, if I'm forced to give my money to right-wing Republicans, I at least want to be treated with respect while I do so.

Thanks for letting me rant.

43 replies, 4053 views

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Reply Why "mom and pop" stores are as bad as big-box stores (Original post)
lbrtbell Feb 2013 OP
Warpy Feb 2013 #1
Ash_F Feb 2013 #2
Scuba Feb 2013 #40
NYC_SKP Feb 2013 #3
triguy46 Feb 2013 #4
hollysmom Feb 2013 #32
Lint Head Feb 2013 #5
msanthrope Feb 2013 #6
firehorse Feb 2013 #7
riderinthestorm Feb 2013 #8
Daemonaquila Feb 2013 #9
Sherman A1 Feb 2013 #11
REP Feb 2013 #10
jollyreaper2112 Feb 2013 #12
Zephie Feb 2013 #13
EastKYLiberal Feb 2013 #14
ScreamingMeemie Feb 2013 #15
rustydog Feb 2013 #16
bhikkhu Feb 2013 #19
Luminous Animal Feb 2013 #17
bhikkhu Feb 2013 #18
wildeyed Feb 2013 #43
matt819 Feb 2013 #20
Th1onein Feb 2013 #21
GreenStormCloud Feb 2013 #22
cthulu2016 Feb 2013 #23
brooklynite Feb 2013 #24
randome Feb 2013 #25
JI7 Feb 2013 #26
Douglas Carpenter Feb 2013 #27
cali Feb 2013 #38
840high Feb 2013 #28
FreakinDJ Feb 2013 #29
Matariki Feb 2013 #30
Le Taz Hot Feb 2013 #31
Bonobo Feb 2013 #33
Rowdyboy Feb 2013 #34
WhaTHellsgoingonhere Feb 2013 #35
cali Feb 2013 #36
quaker bill Feb 2013 #37
JHB Feb 2013 #39
mojitojoe Feb 2013 #41
jmg257 Feb 2013 #42

Response to lbrtbell (Original post)

Wed Feb 20, 2013, 08:41 PM

1. While they all shriek in agony when a rise is proposed,

haven't you noticed the deafening silence around any sort of proposed rollback of the minimum wage?

That's because any rise in the minimum wage travels all through the economy in the form of increased business, starting at the neighborhood grocery and going all the way up through heavy equipment and the steel to make it.

The economic pump works from the bottom up. Mom & Pop have to be reminded of it almost as frequently as corporate barons do.

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Response to lbrtbell (Original post)

Wed Feb 20, 2013, 08:42 PM

2. Sorry about you and your mother's experience.

You make strong points. But keep in mind that Walmarts are the same everywhere, but the next small business you visit might be able to serve you better.

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Response to Ash_F (Reply #2)

Thu Feb 21, 2013, 06:44 AM

40. +1,000

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Response to lbrtbell (Original post)

Wed Feb 20, 2013, 08:43 PM

3. First, I wish you hadn't called her a "b**ch". Second:

Your experience with this singular RW run mom and pop store shouldn't be taken by ANYONE as representative of independent stores elsewhere.

I love my indies, the ACE hardware, the indie drug store, and any other non-chain that I can find and support.

I don't care about low prices.

I do care about US jobs and the middle class.

Even the RW middle class.

We have more in common with them than we do with the owners of Walmart.

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Response to NYC_SKP (Reply #3)

Wed Feb 20, 2013, 08:50 PM

4. I as well support the locals who work hard...

even if pricier on some things. That is not an absolute as there are many businesses in this town of 40,000 that I won't support because of attitude, poor service, dishonesty.

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Response to NYC_SKP (Reply #3)

Thu Feb 21, 2013, 02:24 AM

32. There are some great small stores.

I so miss the old hardware store that wws driven out of business, I could go in for just a small piece and ask in my own ignorant way and the clerks in the store knew everything, had worked there all their lives. They knew so much, I used to like to bounce ideas off of them when fixing up my old house. For a while, you could get help in Home depot, but lately the clerks are just ignorant. I know more than they do about stuff. That is a very sad statement. So I miss the old hardware store, plus they didn't have cookie cutter parts, I could get unique door pulls and other stuff. After they closed, I started to go to plumbing supply stores for purchases. Even they are closing.

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Response to lbrtbell (Original post)

Wed Feb 20, 2013, 08:51 PM

5. This just kills me. Mom and pop need to get a clue. Everybody is paying more for everything.

Even the people they employ. The people they employ need to pay for gas, food and roofs over their heads. Don't go into damn business if you find your business assessment and model don't make a profit. You don't have to offer certain benefits to employees if you employ under 50 people. Major restaurants rip off their employees every day. They pay them 3 dollars and hour plus tips then don't work them for 40 hours so they don't have to pay benefits. Big box stores also work people under 36 hours and some over 49 yet do not pay benefits. The system is broken for everybody.

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Response to lbrtbell (Original post)

Wed Feb 20, 2013, 08:53 PM

6. Please edit your post to remove the sexist term. nt

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Response to lbrtbell (Original post)

Wed Feb 20, 2013, 08:55 PM

7. I'd rather support small business even if things cost more, better than giving it to wallmart.

I'm a small one person business. I can't compete with big businesses that can negotiate low prices by buying in vollumes of 500,000 units. My bulk is 5 - 20, and its made by me locally. It's going to cost way more than what Wallmart would sell their version for.

Just like people some small business owners suck. I know quite a few. But more are genuinely good people trying to do the right thing, and just trying to get by on the verge of going out of business themselves.

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Response to lbrtbell (Original post)

Wed Feb 20, 2013, 09:00 PM

8. Your story is actually instructive on why MONOPOLIES are bad for communities

Because they can treat their customers (and their employees) like shit because they have you over a barrel with nowhere else to shop.

Walmart has driven out the competition that may have raised the level of customer service in ALL of the shops.

Can you edit to remove the sexist bitch term please?

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Response to lbrtbell (Original post)

Wed Feb 20, 2013, 09:00 PM

9. A couple bad businesses don't make a pattern.

Certainly not a pattern from which you can conclude that mom & pop stores are as bad as big corps. Part of the joy of living in a community, large or small, is knowing who the cheats are and who your good neighbors are, and supporting the good mom & pop shops.

Ok, so you got shafted. Well, I've got a mom & pop shop where they've gone beyond reason to be good to me and not charge me for work, just because of a delay that wasn't even their fault. Another one does my oil changes, and are as sweet, helpful, quick, and cheap as can be. Another shop has virtually everything a person might ever need, for prices almost as good across the board as the Walmart down the road. I could go on and on about the great mom & pop business owners in my very republican area, of both political affiliations by the way, who are magnificent. Those who are mean SOBs, nobody buys from and they whine about it endlessly. (Wah.) just because you've chosen to do business with people you haven't checked out (i.e., gotten to know since they're neighbors in the community regardless) who turned out to be stinkers, doesn't mean you can write off mom & pop stores with a broad brush.

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Response to Daemonaquila (Reply #9)

Wed Feb 20, 2013, 09:28 PM

11. Agreed

I understand the OP's frustration and believe they have every right to vent about their experiences. I certainly would take my business elsewhere and encourage others in the community to do so as well. That said you are correct about using the stated examples to paint all mom & pops with a broad brush. Too often we see examples of sweeping generalizations and they are simply not very helpful to supporting an point of view.

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Response to lbrtbell (Original post)

Wed Feb 20, 2013, 09:28 PM

10. "BBB accredited" means the business paid their dues to the BBB

In other words, nothing.

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Response to lbrtbell (Original post)

Wed Feb 20, 2013, 09:29 PM

12. I've seen this happen with lots of things

We hate what the system is and don't realize we have it as a reaction to the old system which also sucks.

You know what's as bad as an HOA? No HOA. You know what's as bad as cops? No cops.

It's human nature, whether you're getting spat on in person or crushed beneath the wheels of some giant corporation. People suck.

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Response to lbrtbell (Original post)

Wed Feb 20, 2013, 09:33 PM

13. So one bad experience and all of them are just as bad as Wal-mart?

That's painting it all with a massively broad brush. So these guys were idiots, that doesn't mean that the next store you visit will be. And is it better to give your money to soulless corporations? Nope. I'd rather pay for a little girl's violin lessons.

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Response to lbrtbell (Original post)

Wed Feb 20, 2013, 09:36 PM

14. Any business that opposes a minimum wage increase...

 

Doesn't deserve to do business in America.

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Response to lbrtbell (Original post)

Wed Feb 20, 2013, 09:43 PM

15. Your use of the word b*tch kind of lost any sympathy I might have had.

I'm sorry. "I at least want to be treated with respect while I do so."

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Response to lbrtbell (Original post)

Wed Feb 20, 2013, 09:44 PM

16. To put it simply, Mom and Pop don't have the buying power of Walmart

Costco, Sears, Fred Meyer, etc.

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Response to rustydog (Reply #16)

Wed Feb 20, 2013, 10:12 PM

19. They also don't have a mile-long management hierarchy, each step getting their slice

The shop I work for is a small owner-operator, and we compete with a big chain store in town and with W-mart, which is next door.

We compete just fine on prices most of the time, and its usually pretty easy to beat the big store's service.

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Response to lbrtbell (Original post)

Wed Feb 20, 2013, 10:01 PM

17. That's too bad. My corner grocer is great. He has the keys to near everyone's houses and cars

in case we lock ourselves our or the keys in.

He will order practically anything you want and try new products on a recommendation.

When my husband and I went out of town, we left our 19 year old daughter home and John gave me his phone # to pass on to her and said, "If she is stuck anywhere or needs to be bailed out, have her call me. Even if its 4 o'clock in the morning.

Safeway is only two blocks from his store and even though it is cheaper there, I'd rather buy my kitty litter and kitty food and a quick run for some staples than buy from Safeway.

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Response to lbrtbell (Original post)

Wed Feb 20, 2013, 10:09 PM

18. mom and pop stores are a bit like people

some are just fine, some you can live with, and some you just want to avoid.

Its not easy running a small business, so they always get the benefit of any doubt from me. But if the service isn't there, and if the prices aren't fair, I just shop somewhere else.

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Response to bhikkhu (Reply #18)

Thu Feb 21, 2013, 09:18 AM

43. Bingo.

And it is important to remember that money spent at a small business has a much larger chance of staying in the community. Owners live, work, shop and pay taxes locally. A small business typically doesn't get public subsidies or have access to fancy accountants or lobbyists, so the business also pays a higher percentage of taxes than a big box would.

I own a small business. I get really, really tired of people assuming we are all rightwing. I am happy to pay my employees minimum wage as long as ALL business are required to do the same. The playing field is even, we will all have to raise prices slightly, but on the other hand, there will be more disposable income flowing, so we should make more too. Obamacare actually contains a give away for genuine small business. Nice change after a lifetime of politicians telling me that businesses like mine are the backbone of America and then shiving us in favor of a big corporate contributor as soon as the cameras are off.

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Response to lbrtbell (Original post)

Wed Feb 20, 2013, 10:27 PM

20. Quite a town

The largest business owner in my town - largest in terms of number of businesses, not necessarily the largest single company - is a dyed in the wool Republican. I have no idea what she pays her employees, and perhaps that's as it should be. I know that we disagree about just about everything political, and I think she's super. She's funny, intelligent, enterprising, and she cares deeply about our community. She and her employees, in all the businesses, treat their customers as friends and family, and I, for one, am grateful for all of them, as it makes all the difference in the world.

I don't mean to sound like a Pollyanna, but my experience, thankfully, is that most of the locally-owned businesses in this area do pretty much the same. (I suppose that's sort of a self-fulfilling situation, as I generally patronize those stores that treat me this way and either don't patronize others because they don't, or because there's not real need for me to search out alternatives.) Sure, there are some cranky people out there, but for the most part they are working hard, in a tough economy, to serve their customers as they would like to be served. I guess, in contrast to lbrtbell's experience (also in the northeast, I gather, based on the reference to the blizzard), I guess I should consider myself fortunate.





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Response to lbrtbell (Original post)


Response to lbrtbell (Original post)

Wed Feb 20, 2013, 11:09 PM

22. I am surprised that you had trouble with a small town mechanic.

Usually such shops are very honest as they can't afford to get a bad reputation. A big city garage can have a steady stream of new suckers, but small town garages depend on repeat business.

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Response to lbrtbell (Original post)

Wed Feb 20, 2013, 11:25 PM

23. ixnay on the itch-callingbay

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Response to lbrtbell (Original post)

Wed Feb 20, 2013, 11:28 PM

24. Unrec

Your title implies that "Mom & Pop" stores AS A CATEGORY are a problem, rather than the -one- store you're venting about.

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Response to lbrtbell (Original post)

Wed Feb 20, 2013, 11:33 PM

25. Just as corporations think 'bigger is better'...

...privately owned shops think 'smaller is better'. And neither size is guaranteed to give you good service. People are still people. There are good mixed in with the bad. The polite mixed in with the rude.

I'm reminded of how many on DU talk about how they can avoid sales taxes by buying through the Internet but then berate corporations for using loopholes to do the same.

The only solution to corporations is to close the loopholes and that's a job for Congress to do. Level the playing field for big and small shops.

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Response to lbrtbell (Original post)

Wed Feb 20, 2013, 11:39 PM

26. they don't have the power of large corporations , they are less able to get away with shitty

business practices. and money they make usually goes towards paying for their home, food, kids etc rather than buying off politicians and other shit.

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Response to lbrtbell (Original post)

Wed Feb 20, 2013, 11:56 PM

27. I am not ideologically opposed to all chains and franchises - but several small businesses spread

out the wealth - vastly multiply the number of entrepreneurial opportunities and simply make for a more colorful and diverse culture than a few large businesses. Anyone who grew up in a small American town 40 years ago or more - in the days well before Walmart, malls or even plazas came to dominate the landscape can remember a whole different world where every small city in America had its own miniature Manhattan in a community owned by the community where the merchants and even the factory owners were closely bonded members of the community.

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Response to Douglas Carpenter (Reply #27)

Thu Feb 21, 2013, 06:15 AM

38. and that's still the way it is in some places

In fact, that's the way it is throughout my state.

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Response to lbrtbell (Original post)

Thu Feb 21, 2013, 12:15 AM

28. You lost me with B word.

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Response to lbrtbell (Original post)

Thu Feb 21, 2013, 12:22 AM

29. Rush LimpBalls couldn't have said it better

Sorry - I'm not drinking the Kool aid

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Response to lbrtbell (Original post)

Thu Feb 21, 2013, 12:50 AM

30. Maybe that 'bitch' thinks you're a sexist jerk?

And that's why she's rude to you. Ever consider that the problem might not be her?

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Response to lbrtbell (Original post)

Thu Feb 21, 2013, 02:12 AM

31. And my experiences are exactly the opposite.

I go into Big Box Stores (rarely) and no one knows who I am which is OK, that's not their job, except when it comes time to find something or ask a question then all of a sudden, there's not a clerk in sight. And when you finally DO find one, the guy they hired for the automotive department is having to work the gardening department and looks at you like you're from outter space when you ask him where to find the vermiculite.

Otoh, I can go to my LOCAL hardware store which has been there since 1847 (moved several times and obviously upgraded) and they DO know my name. But more importantly, there are electricians in the Electrical Department and plumbers in the Plumbing Department, etc. They've saved me from my home-improvement self countless times by advising me the RIGHT way to do things.

Same thing with the LOCAL stores (2) from where I buy my macrame supplies. They do know my name and I know theirs and they are experts in their field. If they don't have something, they order it for me. Yes, I pay a little more than at Michael's (Blech!) or JoAnn's (Blech Blech!) but I prefer supporting locally-owned businesses whenever I can.

If we want to get away from being corporately-owned, we have to get away from BUYING corporate whenever there is an alternative. Local economic improvement is what will bring us out of this economic downturn. We've already experienced the "too-big-to-fail" model and we all saw how well that works. Let's go the other direction for awhile and see what happens.

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Response to lbrtbell (Original post)

Thu Feb 21, 2013, 02:29 AM

33. Unrec. They are the fabric of society and more are needed for an organic community. nt

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Response to lbrtbell (Original post)

Thu Feb 21, 2013, 02:36 AM

34. So one asshole justifies trashing all small businesspeople? Whatever. Its your world and you're

welcome to it. Bon apetit".

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Response to lbrtbell (Original post)

Thu Feb 21, 2013, 02:36 AM

35. more money remains in the local economy...

...and less goes to Arkansas.

I can't look it up now but it's something like 0.72/$1 to 0.43/$1 remain in the local economy if you chose Sal's Sandwiches over Subway.

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Response to lbrtbell (Original post)

Thu Feb 21, 2013, 02:41 AM

36. your rant is an overly broad generalization

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Response to lbrtbell (Original post)

Thu Feb 21, 2013, 06:12 AM

37. Bad business people come in all sizes.

Being customer service friendly is easy for most any single transaction interaction. The question arises when you are on the 50th or 100th customer of the day, can you maintain it? I make and sell art jewelry at art festivals. Every time I am slotted in with different neighbors doing the same usually in other media.

Some of the artists maintain that bright cheery disposition all day. Others start a bit on the dour side and do not improve all day. The bright and cheery ones seem to sell better, first because they listen to and interact with the customer, they have made stuff their typical customer likes, and second because they work to make friends out of the customer some gather a small following that comes back year after year.

Others remain dour and change their calendar to do different shows hoping for better results and can't seem to figure out why the better results never happen. They blame the public, the venue, the weather, the organizer, when none of that would really matter.

Now I will grant that I have been to some bad shows, where no one was selling anything, even the hot dog vendors were coming up short. Out of this I have learned one very important thing. I never do shows where FOX is the media partner. They will bring out a crowd every time, but none of them will have money they want to spend. (...and there might be Sarah Palin t-shirts in the crowd...)

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Response to lbrtbell (Original post)

Thu Feb 21, 2013, 06:42 AM

39. And why did you keep going back to this place...

...with the nasty proprietor, sloppy misspelled signs, and the overpriced, past-expiration produce?

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Response to lbrtbell (Original post)

Thu Feb 21, 2013, 07:12 AM

41. Notice how the news bimbo referred to him as 'Obama' and not 'President Obama'?

Are you sure that wasn't a Fox network station?

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Response to lbrtbell (Original post)

Thu Feb 21, 2013, 08:48 AM

42. I wonder how people like this stay in business? Oh...that's right...

"for 5 years, I've been kissing up to this woman"

"The eggs had expired 3 weeks ago. She's always pulling stunts like that, which is why I always read expiration dates before buying any of her overpriced crap."

"But instead of learning this lesson, these small business owners keep acting as if it's 1965...that they own the town because there's no shopping alternatives out there.

There are"



Some people will never learn.

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