Scorereader–I think that you may be "comparing apples & oranges" if you are relating chain retail stores to chain restaurant operations. If I buy a box of, let’s say, Oreos in a chain store (whether it is Kroger, A & P, Wal-Mart, etc.) those Oreos are the same product that I could buy at the Mom & Pop grocery store or the local bodega. The only likely difference is the price.
On the other hand, with food preparation, a well-run independently owned and operated non-chain restaurant has the ability to create the level of quality with a product (lets say..a hamburger) that they desire. It would be possible for them to serve hamburgers that are of lower quality than McD’s, for example, or–more likely, for them to serve a superior burger. The McD’s quality may be fairly consistent from one location to another, but that quality is not exactly going to be mouthwatering.
I believe that most people on this board seek out the non-chain eating establishments because of the higher quality of the ingredients and the more personalized food preparation that they are likely to find at the non-chain places. I am one of those people.
However, I will go to the chain retailer of food (Kroger, Shop-Rite, A & P, etc.) because of the greater selection and the invariably lower prices that these establishments charge for the exact same packaged products that form the bulk of their business.
For bulk of my supermarket purchases, a chain has no downside that I can perceive, versus the Mom & Pop grocer. (Or conversely, the Mom & Pop place has no significant advantage that I can perceive.)
Now, of course, if anyone wants to get into another discussion of Wal-Mart specifically, then we can all go off on that tangent again.