Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Step 5 - Boycott Box Stores, Chain Retailers & Restaurants

Now that you learned how and why to shop locally, it's time to take it a step further by no longer shopping at chain retailers and box stores, and eating at chain restaurants. Boycotting them sends a message that consumers will not tolerate their poor business tactics and that we desire local, vibrant downtown districts filled with independent businesses. Every dollar spent at a Walmart, Circuit City or Applebee's is vote of confidence for that business. Buy spending your money there, you are giving those companies the message that you agree with the poor quality products, there unfair labor practices, and there disregard for local economies. Often, when I have discussed this step with people, I get the same response - "It's not my fault that Walmart does bad business." Everytime I have to remind the person that every dollar we spend is a vote. It would be like voting for the worst candidate on the ballot, then saying it's not your fault they got elected.

As consumers it is time we take ownership over where we spend our money and how our money is used by these businesses. As discussed in the previous steps, money spent at local businesses stays within our communities because they use local banks, local print shops, local newspapers, and typically live locally. When we shop at big box stores, that money is funneled directly out of the community and back to headquarters. Boycotting those businesses sends a signal that we cannot and will not support them draining our communities, living off of them like a parasite.

If you're used to shopping at a box store and getting your goods and food cheap, this next step may be the hardest for you. That's why I'm going to give you this tip - 20% change is better than no percent. Every little bit helps. If you usually buy your shower curtains at Walmart, reconsider and buy them at a local store. If you usually eat at Applebee's for your date night - look around your community and see what restaurants are available right there. You don't have to commit 100%, just enough to make a difference, and before you know it, you won't even remember how to find the Walmart on the edge of town because your vision will be blocked by all those booming local businesses right in your community.