Letter: Pope family’s giving benefits many in NC

By Wilson Sawyer

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In your Jan. 19 story, “NAACP leader: Boycott Pope stores,” it was reported, “(Currituck NAACP President William) Etheridge in fact encouraged a boycott of the retail stores owned by (N.C. Budget Director Art) Pope’s family… claiming Pope takes the profits from them and puts money back into the right-wing agenda.”

Mr. Etheridge failed to present a full picture of charitable giving by Art Pope and the John William Pope Foundation. In addition to supporting public policy nonprofits, which seek to enhance prosperity for all people, the Pope Foundation devotes millions to humanitarian charities, such as soup kitchens, medical missions, food banks and homeless shelters.

In October, the Pope Foundation gave $15,000 to Food Bank of the Albemarle to help those struggling to make ends meet in Elizabeth City. One of the foundation’s core focus areas is to meet the immediate needs of men, women and children in our communities.

Mr. Etheridge also failed to mention that Variety Wholesalers — owner of Roses and other discount stores — is an equal opportunity employer that provides jobs to local residents and terrific values to customers.

African-Americans make up about 22 percent of North Carolina’s overall population, but Variety Wholesalers’ workforce is over 44 percent African-American. Furthermore, over 37 percent of the managers in Variety Wholesalers stores are African-American.

Recently, Variety Wholesalers opened a Roses store in Elizabeth City that employs 38 local residents. Our stores are good members of the community, providing jobs and a place for the whole family to shop. We are proud to be part of the Elizabeth City community.


Editor’s note: The author is chief operating officer of Variety Wholesalers.


Mr.Pope's Stores do what they need to do

To maintain a profit margin which incidentally is shrinking in the face of Obamanomics. But let's talk about George Soros.......

Our nation...

celebrates financial success. The Pope family is undeniably successful. We also celebrate rich philanthropists. The Pope family is undeniably philanthropic. However, it's more than a bit self-serving to publish a letter like this because it makes the Pope family seem more than a little "royal." Do they not understand that at least some of the people that benefit from their generosity must accept it just to survive because they can't live on the part-time schedule and minimum wage paid by the Popes. Reminds me of the old saying, "The beatings will continue until morale improves." Mr. Pope's market demographic is lower income people. The very people that Mr. Sawyer's letter claims to be helping through Pope family philanthropy, and that's good. However, Art Pope himself has implied that maybe he would close some of those stores if his employees took action to raise their wages. Again, just a bit imperial, or perhaps, a bit Henry Ford at his River Rouge Plant in Dearborn. However, the Pope family should remember that their "market demographic" really does have the power to shut them down if they choose. So, perhaps he should remember Mr. Lincoln's thought that "labor is much the superior of capital, for without labor there can be no capital." When you also consider the republican policies pushed through our imperial legislature by Mr. Pope that so strongly impact our minorities and poor, then it just seems that the beatings will continue and the poor should be grateful for the handout. Break's over! Now, I'm happy that the Pope family is successful, and that they make an effort to give back to the lower income community that pays them so well that they can afford to do this. But, isn't it time for the Popes to give their employees a living wage so that maybe, just maybe those lower income people won't need their boss' pay check AND their boss' charity check to survive? It is a false and broken system that depends on philanthrophy to make up for low wages. I suspect that national welfare costs, so loudly decried by the republicans, would drop significantly if wages rise. The Pope's own philanthropy becomes cynical and self-serving when it appears to be used to cover their own role in sustaining the conditions that fuel their philanthropic mission. We can reduce the welfare rolls simply by raising wages. And isn't "welfare" public philanthropy? I suggest that Mr. Pope should replace philanthropy with fairness. I suspect that he will still have enough left over to continue his philanthropies, to loud acclaim. Maybe his friend the Gov will give him a nice plaque. $15,000 sounds nice until you consider that it's only slightly more than the pay of one annual part-time minimum wage worker. Respectfully Submitted, Force 12

Thank you

Thank you, Force 12.

Apparently the average hourly

Apparently the average hourly wage is high enough for people to take the jobs. I doubt very much if Mr. Sawyer can legally ask his employees if they receive any public assistance.

I suspect

Given the pay scale, he KNOWS . . . . .

And, what

pray tell, is the average hourly wage? And how many of your employees receive public assistance?

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