A challenge

I was reading the Christian Science Monitor online today when I came across an interesting book review that really inspired me.

The book, called Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping, by Judith Levine, is about a year the author spent refusing to buy anything she did not need for survival. She took her experiment to an extreme with which I am not comfortable, but her idea inspired me in a somewhat similar direction.

Ron and I are huge Route 66 supporters. One of the biggest concerns for roadies is the impact of corporate America on little mom-and-pop operations. To put it bluntly, the McFranchises and Chain-Marts are absolutely killing the little guys. One local feed store owner told me last week that her corporate-owned competitor will advertise items for sale at prices lower than she can buy them wholesale. As she put it: “That hurts.”

The government won’t (and probably shouldn’t) stop the giants. But consumers can (and probably should). Money talks. And I’m not sure I like what mine is saying.

I’ve always balked at the idea of boycotting the big guys in favor of Mom and Pop. The prices are too high. Little stores don’t carry all the products I use. Blah, blah, blah.

But with a smaller selection, won’t I be less tempted to buy things I don’t need, thus more than compensating for the slightly higher prices of individual items? Won’t the little guys’ limited hours encourage me to rummage through my existing hardware collection when I need something instead of rushing to Lowe’s to buy a duplicate?

And if I truly need an item that my local mom-and-pop doesn’t carry … isn’t it likely that they’ll be willing to order it for me if they recognize me as a loyal customer?

We’ll find out.

Starting today, for a period of one month, I refuse to set foot in a corporate-affiliated store (with one significant exception: Our local Fleet Feet store, which is a franchise, has my undying loyalty because its owners, Tim and Lori Dreiling, do so much for the Tulsa running community; they may be a franchise, but they’ve got the soul of a mom-and-pop).

I’ll post updates on my experiment here.

Emily

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