What Did We Let Happen To Us?

December 30, 2013 at 10:26 am Leave a comment

I can remember when most businesses were local. True you had Sears, Montgomery Wards, and Western Auto but other than that most business was local. The inner cities were mostly alike. The residential areas were tucked away beyond the busy streets that were lined with thriving businesses. Your Dad commuted by trolley, bus or possibly car to an industrial/manufacturing job a few miles away. Your Mother probably walked to the store to buy what she needed or waited for Dad to get home with the car. She bought mostly food items. She would shop frequently during the week because refrigeration wasn’t large and fresh food would spoil quickly.

You would save your pennies and go to a Dime Store or dry goods store to shop, usually just around the corner. If you needed a big-ticket item you would go downtown where the large department stores would be. Eventually strip malls and then indoor malls in the suburbs replaced these as we moved further out from the inner city.

You knew your neighborhood merchants and they knew you. You traded with the ones that you trusted and you avoided trading with those you didn’t. Having a loyal following was the local businessmen’s lifeline. It was something he nurtured and treasured. Many times these shop owners also attended your church or fraternal organization. They had families just like you. They struggled just like you and they depended on your patronage to make a living.

My how things have changed. Back then you voted with your dollars, literally. If you didn’t get good service from a local business you tried another. After all there were several bakeries, butcher shops, grocery stores, etc. within easy walking distance. You weren’t forced to shop at some mega store owned by a global corporation that doesn’t have your best interest at heart. The money you spent in your neighborhood stayed in your neighborhood, or your city, state or at the very least within the United States. Now our hard earned money is funneled all over the world into banks located in Hong Kong, London, Berlin and dozens of other places.

And you know what? We let it happen. We voted with our dollars and decided years ago that low prices and convenience meant more to us than supporting our neighbors and friends. That has been every Mega Store’s strategy from the beginning. Playing on our laziness and greed to force the individual local businessman out. In doing so much of our wealth has been shipped overseas. The same goes with our industry/manufacturing base. It left also as we demanded cheaper goods.

Why? Why, you might ask. So we could have more. More than we need. Time was we bought quality and it lasted generations. Now we buy new just for the sake of buying. We buy things, then tire of them, trash them or store them in Mini Storage units only to have our kids deal with it when we are gone.

So when you complain about the Mega Corporations running the world, killing off the environment, and reducing most of us to a poor consumer class remember this one thing. “We allowed it.” It was our use of our money that caused this. True we were enticed into it by cheaper goods and the ability to have more, but we nonetheless caused it.

It’s not too late. Actually it’s never too late. We can reclaim our buying power by exercising restraint when we purchase. Ask yourself some tough questions before you purchase. Do I need it? How will it impact my environment? Can I buy it locally? By thinking before buying we can change the way business is done. We can support local merchants and revive our local economies. We can do it. Just stop a moment and think. Then maybe we can bridle this run away horse before we go over the cliff with it.

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The Loss of Camelot

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