Tuesday, December 19, 2006


The following post was inspired by a situation with my sister. She is in a very fearful place right now with her financial situation. Fearful enough to take as a client a company which
has applied BigBox marketing to the massage business. Fearful enough to become very upset with me when I expressed my objections, thus providing me with yet another opportunity to decide who I want to be in relationnship to the situation. I have had quite a struggle with it. (The photo from http://www.jibjab.com/ )

Bill had a hardware store. He had bought his father out when he retired. The hardware store had been on operation in this town for more than 45 years. Bill wasn’t rich, but he made a comfortable living and provided a needed service to his community.

Then the BigBox opened on the outskirts of town. People found that they could get the things they usually bought from Bill at a much lower price than Bill could offer on the same items. Everything was so cheap at the BigBox. Pretty soon, Bill went out of business and filed bankruptcy as well.

Joe bought Bill’s house at auction for a fraction of its worth. He had been going to build a house for himself and his family but Bill’s house was very nice and it was so cheap. Besides, it was a good investment. Joe figured that in a couple of years, he could double his money on the house and use it to buy more investment property.

Since Joe bought Bill’s house, he did not need the services of Bob, the local contractor. Bob also did not to get to hire Jerry and George to help him build the Joe’s house. This also was a blow for the local lumber yard and plumbing supply business who were still in business because BigBox Home Improvement has not come to town just yet.

Jerry decided to go fishing. However, when he got to his favorite fishing place, the creek was full of trash. Several BigBox plastic shopping bags were caught in the trees. Cans, bottles and other debris had washed downstream from the BibBox parking lot.

Out of desperation Bill and his wife both took jobs at BigBox making minimum wage for 30 hours a week. They signed up for food stamps to feed their children. They use the county clinic for medical care. It doesn’t look like they will be sending the kids to college as planned so they will most likely work at BigBox, too.

Their old customers kept making their purchases at BigBox. At first, they could get everything Bill used to have but, little by little, that changed. BigBox only stocked the things that sell the fastest and at the most volume, so the special things that Bill used to keep on hand because he sold a few of them a year and he knew that his customers really needed them are nowhere to be found. Some of them don’t even exist anymore because BigBox did not see fit to set up manufacturing in China to make them and the small companies that made them here are gone because they could not compete with the slave labor wages that the companies BigBox buys things from can get away with overseas.

Two local grocery stores and several clothing stores also went out of business after BigBox came to town. If anyone in town minds that all their clothes look alike and that they don’t have as much variety in food choices as they used to, nobody says much about it. After all, everything at BigBox is so cheap.
They do gripe about taxes going up due to the clinic being suddenly busier than before, more kids needing free school lunches and more families needing food stamps. Few people see the connection between their higher taxes and the fact that everything at BigBox is so cheap.


Karlos said...

Thanks for dropping by my blog. Funny you should post about big box stores. Our neighborhood hardware store just shut down. I’m still a little sad when I drive by it. I gladly paid more for quick, friendly and good service.

HEB has pretty much driven all but a few independent (and one Handy Andy) grocery stores out of town here in SA. There’s single-store, independent grocer down the road that I frequent every chance I get. I like the atmosphere, and their produce is much better than HEB.

seventh sister said...

Karlos, Thanks for dropping by. Yeah, it is pretty sad that we are losing so many indepeendently owned businesses. There is still a small hardware store near my home, but yesterday I had to go to Home Depot because the small store did not hae what I needed. I hate having to go to big box stores but a lot of the time, they are my only alternative. I just try not to shop much.

Top cat said...

Excellent post!
I for one refuse to shop at WM because of their unfair labor & business practices.
Mr.WM created his mega empire by using stragetic moves to undercut the local businessmen.
If they lowered their prices to compete he lowered his even more and continued this process until Closed signs were put on all his competitors.
Managers attend seminars at which they are indoctrinated and brainwashed into the WM way and leave being WM robots to further the WM philosophy.
I hope one Mr.WM choked on all his gold on his way to Hell!

seventh sister said...

Hey top cat,
Why don't you tell us how you really feel?:)

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Wow! Good for you for putting this out there. It's true, most people do not make the connection, or if they do, they rationalize that it's only a few items, or it's too mcuh trouble to make all those stops when they can get everything in one place. It's very sad and hurts all of us in the end.

I nearly always shop in locally-owned smaller stores because in a way, they are the last stronghold of a way of life that has, sadly, passed into history. And because I cherish the personal contact, the relationships I've developed with small business folks and their employees. It's like finding a small town in the midst of a big city.

Top cat said...

believe it or not I held back.lol

Taexalia said...

It is horrible to watch and it is happening here too - even with bookshops. Those of us who try to support small local business find more and more of our choices removed :(

Timothy Johnson said...

Seventh Sister

Thanks for stopping by my blog... this post is excellent and really drives home the interdependence among systems that we all take for granted. Very well communicated.

seventh sister said...

Timothy, please leave a link when you post so that I can get back to your blog again. Thanks for your comment.