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Information, news and commentary on corporate social responsibility, especially in the New York City area. Linked to website
Maintained by John Tepper Marlin, Principal, CSRNYC.

Monday, March 31, 2008

The Shop Local Movement

Every movement tends to inspire an equal and opposite movement.

Wal-Mart exemplifies the advantages of economies of scale. Bigger stores and bigger chains mean that systems can be perfected, buying power is enormous, and widespread recognition of the brand makes it hard for competitors to make inroads.

The Shop Local movement is a reaction to this. It is spearheaded by, for example, the American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA). Their enemy is the big company.

Evangelists for the Shop Local movement include Stacy Mitchell with Big Box Swindle: The True Cost of Mega-Retailers and the Fight for America’s Independent Businesses and Bill McKibben with Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future.

Another evangelist, in his own way, is Ellis Jones and his Better World Shopper. I notice that on his comparisons of beers and fast-food chains, for example, the smaller brewers and chains get better ratings.

The paradox of the Shop Local movement is that successful small firms get bigger. Surveys show that most Americans want to work in a small city or town, but in fact choose a big city because that's where the jobs are. We can savor the pleasures of shopping local, but economics will carry a successful company beyond its local market.

For example, Gary Hirshberg, CE-YO of Stonyfield Farm Yogurt, is an exponent of Shop Local. But his path forward was selling stock to Danone, a very big company based France.

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