Who’s not your community!

About ten years ago I took a road trip from Los Angeles to visit my parents in Montana. After a couple weeks, I departed via my sister’s place in Nebraska. When leaving Christy’s place, I thought I’d try something. What if I made it all the way home to Southern California without touching an interstate highway or spending a cent a national chain company.

It’s too easy to default to the easy … get on the highway, get off and eat McDonalds – and get back on the highway, and on and on. But isn’t there more?

My first stop was in Oklahoma. It was noon … lunch time, on two lane State Road 14. Out of nowhere was a little grocery store … and next to it was this huge black gentleman laboring over a barbecue barrel. This was lunch! After three dollars, great conversation – and the best pulled pork barbecue sandwich I have ever had, I drove on.

Now I could go on about the next two days. I could talk about Pie Town (the pumpkin pie is to die for!) … but I think you know how it’ll turn out. Every stop was memorable. Little I did know that that venture would result in a “business purpose” I’m putting in play today.

Our president is unveiling his jobs plan as I write this. Unemployment is high and consumer confidence is low. And the “insane clown posse” that poses as our government bickers about things that even my ten year old next door neighbor wouldn’t think relevant.

I wrote a post four days ago about “Who your community is.” This fit’s into the above diatribe.

But as important as recognizing who your community is … it’s also important to recognize who your community isn’t. It’s not your Wal-mart, it’s not your Target, it’s not your corporate owned McDonalds and it’s not the big box store down the street. They may be in your neighborhood … but they’re not your neighbors – they are not your community!

These faceless corporations are here to take – to take your money, to take the life blood out of the locally owned firms who are your community. The more you give them – the less you have to give to those businesses that really matter, your neighbors – your community.

Of the sponsors of the Minot relief concert I was at (with L. Sean Key, my collaborator) with the Black Eyed Peas, none of them were these firms, even though all had presence in the town. There’s a Wal-mart in Minot. There’s a Target in Minot, and the there’s two MacDonalds. Only local business gave their time, their effort and resources. This disgusts me!

Wal-Mart is not your neighbor!

Times are not good in America right now. But it’s not because there’s a lack of money. It’s because it’s going to wrong the places. Any time you patronize a national concern over a locally owned business, you are sending money out of your community. Every time you use Bank of America over your local credit union, or Home Depot over your local hardware store … you are killing your community. You are sending money to offshore accounts, to bloated institutions or worse yet greedy, self-serving CEOs.

40% to 50% percent of each dollar spent at a locally owned business stays in the community. Yet only 15% percent does with a large corporate entity, like Wal-mart.. What does that tell you!

You may think that the couple of dollars you save – is worth it …. but is it?

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I can be found on Twitter at @clayforsberg

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