Does Wal-Mart, with its rock-bottom prices and reputation for rolling over every small business in its path, perpetuate poverty? The answer is yes, says Stacy Mitchell, a senior researcher with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.
Stacy writes, “Wal-Mart extracts wealth and pushes down incomes in every community it touches, from the rural areas that produce food for its shelves to the neighborhoods that host its stores.” [Tweet this]
You might be thinking this can’t be true… If anything, Wal-Mart, a store that offers the cheapest prices on everything from food to furniture, can’t possibly make poverty any worse, right? Wrong.
Here are some eye-opening stats and information courtesy of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance:
- In a study of 3,000 Wal-Mart openings, each store caused a net decline of about 150 jobs (as competing retailers downsized & closed) & lowered total wages paid to retail workers. [Tweet this]
- When locally owned businesses are replaced by big-box stores, dollars that once circulated in the community, supporting other businesses and jobs, leak out. [Tweet this]
- Neighborhoods where Wal-Mart opens end up with higher poverty rates and more food-stamp usage than places where the retailer does not expand. [Tweet this]
These stats clearly indicate that Wal-Mart brings poverty, but it also raises the question: Are you assisting them by shopping in their stores? Hey, we’re not exactly pointing fingers here. We’ve all been guilty of choosing chains over local businesses at some point, right? But with troubling statistics like the ones above, how long can we continue to ignore them?
Fight Back Against Wal-Mart
So what can we do about it? It might seem like we’re powerless against a giant like Wal-Mart, but in actuality, we, as consumers, hold the power in our pocketbooks. Why not make it your goal, starting today, to avoid Wal-Mart – and other chain stores – and give your business to a local store instead?
As a small business owner yourself, you can help the small businesses in your community thrive by keeping your dollars local.
Even if you can’t shop local every day, some is always better than none. Local First Arizona urges people to shift 10% of their spending to local businesses. Doing this, they note, “can help support and improve the quality of life for everyone.”
Keep in mind, this doesn’t only apply to personal purchases. Shift 10% of your business’ spending (or more) – office supplies, accounting, etc. – and help other local providers not only stay in business but remain profitable.
Spreading the shop local message will help bring in customers to your own small business and empower your community as a whole. There’s strength in numbers, which is something eLocal, a directory that helps connect consumers with local businesses, promotes.
They found that if the people of an average America city were to shift 10% of their spending from chains to local businesses, it would bring an additional $235 million per year to the community’s economy. [Tweet this]
It’s Time to Break the Cycle
“This year, Wal-Mart plans to open between 220 and 240 stores in the U.S., as it marches steadily on in its quest to further control the grocery market,” Stacy warns. Wal-Mart may be trying to dominate with low prices and the lure of all-in-one convenience, but that doesn’t mean we have to let them.
Whether you already have a Wal-Mart around every corner or your city is about to get its first one, isn’t it time you started choosing local over chains? We have plenty of reasons to shop locally – and we have the stats that back up the negative influence chains have on our communities. Doesn’t it make sense, then, that we put our money where are homes, businesses, and families are?
Keep it local and keep our communities’ ability to prosper where it belongs: in the hands of local residents who know, and value, the immense power our money has to make a real, viable difference.