The fourth-generation store operator of Woodville, Miss.-based Treppendahl’s Super Foods represented the National Grocers Association (NGA) before the House Small Business Committee in an effort to bring to light the effects of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on small business owners.
In the hearing “The Tax Law’s Impact on Main Street," Wettlin Treppendahl testified that the act has helped him reinvent his store, saying it has had an "immediate impact" on his business' ability to invest in itself and its community. For example, Treppendahl said that he has replaced 12 doors in the frozen foods section, "providing work for our local refrigeration company and allowing us to expand our selection of frozen foods and save on energy costs."
Additionally, Treppendahl is working with its wholesaler, Associated Grocers of Baton Rouge, to upgrade its 18-year-old checkout lanes next year. The act has also allowed the grocer to give all of his full-time staff members a pay raise.
In response to the testimony, NGA EVP Greg Ferrara called independent supermarket operators such as Treppendahl "the cornerstone of our community," adding that "tax reform can help these entrepreneurs to continue to invest in their companies, employees and communities."
Indeed, Treppendahl, whose grocery store is the only one within 25 miles of its location, urged that he is the largest employer in his area with 50 staff members, the largest percentage of which are made up of minorities.
"The absence of my store would mean that members of the community would be required to travel to these distant stores to acquire food and other necessities," he said. "Given the high poverty level in Woodville, many residents do not have the means to travel these distances. If my family’s store was not there, it is not an overstatement to say that the town of Woodville would simply not exist."
Treppendahl also urged Congress to advance reforms that "create a more level playing field and long-term certainty," such as making the pass-through deduction and estate tax exemption permanent as well as establishing rate parity between S-corporations and C-corporations.
“The 20% pass-through deduction is also positive for my business, as we are organized as an S-corporation, but long-term certainty for this provision and rate parity with C-corporations is desired for the future,” Treppendahl said in his written testimony, adding that he believes the "Tax Cuts and Jobs Act strikes the right balance in simplifying the tax code, lowering rates and broadening the tax base."
Small, independent grocers are not the only ones singing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act's praises; major retailers have also spoken out about its benefits. For example, Kroger said its recently launched Feed Your Future program, which allows associates to take a leave of absence to continue their education without forfeiting their jobs or seniority among other benefits, was made possible by the lower federal taxes introduced under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
Kroger Chairman and CEO Rodney McMullen at the time called the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act a "catalyst" that is enabling the retailer to accelerate investments in its Restock Kroger, as well as its plan to "serve America through food inspiration and uplift."
Additionally, Sprouts Farmers Market said it plans to invest about one-third of its savings from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act into initiatives such as leadership development and improving pay and benefits such as healthcare and expanded maternity leave.