Here's an interesting thought: it's not the national retail company that closed the smaller, independently owned business in a town, but the people who choose to shop at the big retail company and not the small business.
Now don't worry, I'm not going to get on too large of a soap box, but it is something I've been thinking a lot about recently and am curious as to your thoughts as well. Also, let it be known that I'm not anti-big business by any means! I actually am just really fascinated by how businesses and communities interact.
So. While it usually is the case that smaller, independently owned businesses tend to have higher prices, I don't know that it's accurate to say that we can't afford to shop there. And maybe the larger question is what exactly are we buying.
Perhaps you've heard the Anne Lappe quote that says "Every time you spend money, you're casting a vote for the kind of world you want." And the more I learn about business, the more I believe this to be true.
Let's take a look at food:
National companies are beginning to carry more organic produce. (Hurray!) When business is the bottom line, it means that customers are asking for more organic options and the business responds to the customer's desires.
Carrying this further, the quality of the businesses that exist today is a direct reflection on us!
While disappointing at first given the state of businesses today, this can actually a really empowering thought.
We as consumers can and do make a difference on a global scale.
But what difference are we making?
For my husband and I, this means choosing to spend money on a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box twice a month from Johnson's Backyard Garden here in Austin. While definitely more expensive than the grocery store across the street from our apartment, the vote we're casting is that access to fresh, local veggies is the kind of world we want to live in. For us, this means that we choose to eat considerably less meat than this Texas gal would prefer because the kind of meat we want to "vote" for is outside our grocery budget with the added expense of the fresh veggies.
Photo via Johnson's Backyard Garden
My husband and I met at a Farmer's Market volunteering for a Non-Profit that was centered on gardening as a way of creating jobs for the formerly homeless, so this happens to be a subject near and dear to our hearts.
While I'm definitely not saying that this is everyone's path, I do think that what's important is the intentionality of our purchases. It can be ridiculously hard to even find out the story of how an item was made or grown - and this drives me crazy - but we can be intentional about doing what we can with the information we have.
And this is a big part of the reason why I started Purse & Clutch - to give super cute, ethical handbag options (like this one!) to those who are wanting to cast a vote in the fashion industry in this way.
I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!