New project

As alluded to the other day, I am starting yet another project.

I’ve been an avid supporter of mom-and-pop businesses since I got involved with Route 66 a few years ago and started to see the impact of the big-box mentality on American culture — and on people’s livelihoods.

Two films I’ve watched recently — Shut Up and Sing and Independent America — have reinforced for me the importance of keeping the little guys alive and breaking the throttlehold that corporations seem to have on this country.

Almost a year ago, I spent a month trying to shop exclusively at mom-and-pop stores. In Tulsa, we’re blessed with a great many such stores of every imaginable type, so it’s possible to find just about anything you need without ever setting foot in a big box. While there were a few inconveniences involved in the all-indie-all-the-time approach, I found I could get by quite comfortably without the big guys. In a lot of towns, such an endeavor would be impossible, because the chains have killed all the mom-and-pops.

I’ve wandered back into the chains since last year’s experiment, but I do find that I’m more aware of the little stores and more inclined to shop there after spending a month familiarizing myself with their products and their hours.

My new goal is to expand that awareness — for myself and others.

To that end, I am starting a separate blog, called Indie Tulsa, for the express purpose of reviewing independent businesses in Tulsa. My initial goal is to review one business per week. Depending on how successful this project turns out to be and how much time I have to work on it, I may authorize additional users to post their own reviews, and I may do more than one review per week.

The first review will go online sometime in the next few hours, so stay tuned. The site may not look pretty right off the bat (I need to shoot some photos and put together a header, blogroll, about page, etc., etc., etc.), but I expect it to grow and improve quickly over the next few weeks.


6 thoughts on “New project”

  1. Emily, the anti-WalMart activists in Carbondale have for a few years now been refining an “Anti-Walmart Survivalist’s Guide” sort of publication, with the focus being on teaching people where they can find anything they need without setting foot in Wal-Mart. I am suspicious of its merit in a town like Carbondale, where your alternatives for SOME items, at least, are like, “Don’t go to Walmart. Go to Target, or Rural King,” you know…like just jumping out of one big box into another…but I think Tulsa could really pull something like that off quite effectively and quite expansively as well. Good luck!!

  2. Rural King doesn’t really fit in with Walmart. It’s a corporation, granted, but not on the scale of Walmart or Target. It’s mostly Illinois, and based in Mattoon. Not that they don’t sell a lot of cheap Chinese junk and pay their employees squat…

  3. It’s a Wal-Mart wannabe. At the moment, Atwood’s — the Oklahoma equivalent of Rural King — is probably even higher on my boycott list than Wal-Mart, because it probably had as much to do with the demise of the Country Store as anything out there.

    Selling cheap Chinese junk and underpaying the help are the two pillars of any quest for world domination. Without that, you can’t undercut the little guy and force him out of business.

    I think the “Anti-Walmart Survivalist’s Guide” is a nice start, but what Carbondale probably needs, more than anything else, is a good green directory. Somebody ought to get in touch with Ande Reed of Sustainable Tulsa and ask her what it takes to get something like that off the ground. If Tom Egert is still in town, that would be a sweet project for him to take on. Failing that, the kids at the Co-op could probably put together something great.

    Using Tulsa’s green directory alone, a person could just about break the big-box addiction.

    I suspect Carbondale has more options than you think. A lot of them are just tucked away, so you don’t think about them immediately. But I personally could buy all my groceries at Arnold’s … books at Rosetta … art supplies at 710 … shoes at Shawnee Trails … clothes at the consignment stores … coffee at Makanda Java … furniture and appliances at Bluelocks … power gel and bike accessories at Phoenix Cycles … you get the idea. Sure, it takes a little longer to get the shopping done that way, but the stress level is SO much lower, and it’s SO much nicer to do business with people who know who you are, smile when they see you, and genuinely care what kind of day you’re having.

  4. That’s about what I’d expect of Brad Cole. When is the election? She won’t need me, but I’ll come home and do some precinct walking for Sheila Simon anyway, just on general principles. If there’s anything else I can do to stick it to Cole from where I sit, you can bet I’ll do it.

    Maybe Sheila Simon ought to spearhead that green directory project. ‘Twould be a nice little project to hang her hat on ahead of the election, and I doubt she’d have any shortage of volunteers.

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