BUTLER, Pa. — Independent operators must be able to compete on a level playing field with the industry's largest players to keep diversity alive in the marketplace, said Carole Bitter, chairwoman of Harold Friedman Inc., a seven-store independent based here, and of the National Grocers Association, Arlington, Va. “Independent operators have a wonderful opportunity to grow — as long as the playing field is level,” she said. “The vast majority of companies in our industry are independent, ...

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