'Local' Means More than 'Locale' | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

'Local' Means More than 'Locale'

In her Aug. 21 column, "How Locavores Brought On Local-Washing," Forbes magazine Deputy Editor Elisabeth Eaves takes umbrage with the story "A Local Lie" (link) published here and in a handful of other newsweeklies around the country. Our story took note of efforts by "big box" corporate retailers to slap the word "local" on their marketing in an attempt to co-opt the very real "Buy Local" and "Think Local First" movements that communities are taking part in around the country.

While we're flattered by the attention from Forbes, I'm afraid I disagree a bit with Ms. Eaves' logic.

Her column opens with a discussion of Starbucks' new initiative—fake "local" coffee shops. The shops, named for the streets where they intersect, are designed to appear to be locally owned coffee-and-beer houses, burying the Starbucks brands in the small print.

Eaves seems to imply this is just Starbucks being clever. When I think of Starbucks sweeping into Jackson and faking a "local vibe" to compete with Cups or Sneaky Beans or Javawerks or Wired Café, I find the subterfuge distasteful. Starbucks is what it is; if they want to change things up, they have every right, but they should be straightforward about it.

Eaves next tried to paint JFP editor Donna Ladd as an extremist for Donna's criticism of ShopLocal LLC, the Gannett-owned company that pushes the Sunday circular advertising business of Gannett-owned newspapers like The Clarion-Ledger onto the Web.

"Localists like Donna Ladd, editor in chief of the Jackson Free Press, are meanwhile incensed by a company called ShopLocal, owned by the news chain Gannett for purporting to promote local businesses to consumers. Whether ShopLocal does that or not depends on your definition of local," Eaves wrote. "Go to ShopLocal.com, and it will direct you to outlets of national chain stores located in your area."

And she's right, you do find (only!) national chain stores in our area when you visit ShopLocal.com, which is a valid reason to criticize this corporate-owned behemoth. Just like StarBuck's faux-local-vibe coffee house, ShopLocal.com is a clear attempt to co-opt the good will of the "shop local" concept and twist it into a meaningless corporate marketing pitch for what they call "national-local" businesses like Wal-Mart.

But, buried in that paragraph, we do finally find something worthwhile—Eaves' thesis. Accord to Eaves, whether these local-washing marketing schemes deserve exposure "depends on your definition of 'local.'" (How Clintonian of her.) And, of course, to Eaves—who writes for the self-proclaimed "Home Page for The World's Business Leaders"—it seems there's some room for doubt in what defines a local business.

But, actually, the definition of local isn't up for grabs, and it isn't just marketing. The entire concept of "local" is fundamental both to America's economic recovery and to the potential for progress and self-sufficiency for our local communities.

What Eaves (and others, such as ShopLocal.com's own Patrick Flanagan in his blog post castigating Donna at http://tinyurl.com/jfp-local) are doing is purposely conflating the concepts "local" and "locale." Shopping in your locale (the area where you live) may offer some benefits over, say, shopping on the Web or in a distant county, usually in the form of sales and property taxes returned to your community. Likewise, getting food from farms in your locale may offer some "green" and health benefits (not to mention actual taste), but the benefits are limited if that farm is a major agri-business.

By contrast, shopping with locally owned and independent businesses is beneficial to the local community on many different levels, not the least of which is the fact that studies show 45 percent of dollars spent at locally owned businesses stay in the community, while only 13 percent spent at chains stays in the local market.

How is this true? Locally owned, independent businesses spend more of their revenues with local professionals, banks and service providers. They reinvest in the community, generally at levels that are disproportionate to their profits. Their owners become local business leaders and rally efforts such as infrastructure improvement—such as renovating old downtown buildings. Profits from local businesses circulate in their locales because the money isn't immediately wired away to Arkansas or Virginia. And that local money deposited in local banks is used for local loans to other businesses and for local mortgages and other capital expenditures. It's how capitalism is supposed to work.

Unfortunately, those "big box" public corporations don't give a rat's butt about the "locale" where the store is located. Indeed, they can't. They're corporations. And American corporations in the past 25 years have come to embody but one fundamental, amoral principle to the exclusion of nearly all others: return on shareholder value.

How important is this "local" thing? Jeff Milchen, co-founder of the American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA), put it best. "Most folks we work with recognize political freedom and democracy cannot exist without economic freedom and democracy, and that corporate consolidation of power over nations, communities and our livelihoods is destructive to those values," Milchen e-mailed after the Forbes story came out.

One of the key areas where this "local" vs. "locale" discussion needs to be addressed is in municipal government. Too often cities and counties give outrageous tax incentives and infrastructure outlays to corporations that are then going to drive out locally owned businesses—and take the profits out of town. These municipalities are literally trading those 45 percent benefits for the 13 percent benefits—and paying for the privilege.

That's why I encourage "Think Local First" thinking here in the Jackson metro. Dollars spent and re-circulated locally lead, ultimately, to a self-sufficiency that improves democracy, capitalism and community. We recognize we can't shop local every time, but the more we strive, the better off we'll be.

That's what the true "shop local" movement is all about.

Previous Comments

ID
151286
Comment

What a great response to the Forbes piece. Todd hit the nail on the head. What a great way to explain it by using locale vs. local.

Author
Langston Moore
Date
2009-08-27T10:09:49-06:00
ID
151293
Comment

BTW, we cut this part out of his column for print due to space. But it bears saying as well, as it points out Eaves' ridiculous logic in trying to shape this column the way she did: In Eaves’ parting shot, the points out that the story “A Local Lie” was actually written by Stacey Mitchell (a "local first" expert) and syndicated to local newspapers around the country. Eaves suggests that running a national story is not very “local” of us. But she mixes the metaphor; locally owned businesses spend those final 45 cents of every dollar in the community even if their products are manufactured elsewhere; it’s certainly impractical to manufacturer every car or hammer or piece of furniture in Jackson just because it’s sold in Jackson. While local sourcing of food and goods is certainly worthwhile when practical, the Think Local First approach is imminently reasonable—buy everything from a locally owned outlet that you can, and fill in with the things that national (and international) suppliers do best. In the case of “The Local Lie,” the main story was written by the published author of the book “Big Box Swindle” and leader in the field—something each of the newsweeklies that ran the main story didn’t have available to them individually and affordably. Many of the papers, such as the JFP, then wrote the local pieces, such as Donna's column about Gannett's ShopLocal (TM) that raised the ire of that corporation (and brought it to Eaves' attention). It’s incumbent upon us as customers and citizens to know the difference and put the utterly commonsense Think Local First philosophy into practice everyday. That’s what the true “shop local” movement is all about.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2009-08-27T12:01:10-06:00
ID
151297
Comment

Great job, Todd! The Itodd strikes again, via a strong riposte - I support the effort to challenge the notion that shareholder value is the only marker of a healthy economy.

Author
Izzy
Date
2009-08-27T12:21:00-06:00
ID
151299
Comment

Inspite of all the crap we deal with here in our City, I must admit that we have some bright bulbs in the chandelier' and there are many people who see this stuff before it heppens. Great article, Todd! Thanks for the post, Hevoka.

Author
justjess
Date
2009-08-27T12:23:58-06:00
ID
151321
Comment

Great article, iTodd. Great metaphor, justjess: "...let it shine, let it shine, let it shine..."

Author
Kacy
Date
2009-08-27T14:53:18-06:00
ID
151335
Comment

Is it just me or is anyone else kind of insulted that anyone would even *try* to imply that shopping at your local Walmart is "shopping local"? If that's the case, then just what is *not* shopping local?

Author
Rico
Date
2009-08-27T17:51:02-06:00
ID
151337
Comment

How is the "shop local" movement different than the "buy American" campaign of the 1970s and 1980s to get people to buy crappy Detroit-made cars? Every community has quality locally owned businesses. Every community has awful local businesses. Some local business treat their workers like crap; some companies owned by outsiders have great benefits and progressive policies. If your readers are making stupid buying decisions -- ones that cost them money -- then report that. Tell 'em how they're paying too much or getting inferior quality. Be a watchdog. Instead of serious reporting on the local economy, you guys have opted for a silly marketing campaign, designed to pander to your core advertisers. You can do better.

Author
CharlesR
Date
2009-08-27T18:16:07-06:00
ID
151353
Comment

How is the "shop local" movement different than the "buy American" campaign of the 1970s and 1980s to get people to buy crappy Detroit-made cars? Assuming this is a serious question, I'd say that one key differentiator is the people behind the movement -- follow the money, if you will. (And this is not to disparage the general idea of buying American, which I certainly am proud to do when the increasingly rare opportunity presents itself.) The "Shop Local First" movement is a grassroots effort designed to make people aware of how their purchasing decisions affect the flow of capital in their community and how consumer and government decisions affect that flow. Its proponents are, by and large, small business organizations and merchant associations in towns and cities around the country. I'm not sure how the "buy American" campaign was financed (or if it was really a signular, coordinated campaign). I seem to remember Wal-Mart wrapped itself in the red, white and blue pretty fervently in the 80s and 90s. But, you're right in that Buy American has often been used by Big Business as a cynical gambit designed to play on emotions. Just as our story points out that many of them are doing now with Buy Local. (I'm not sure if I'm supposed to put the trademark symbol on that or not. {wave} Sorry Gannett! Don't sue me, please!) The "Shop Local First" movement, in one aspect, is actually designed to make people more aware of the benefits of buying the *same*, similar or superior products from locally owned businesses instead of from corporate big box retailers. In so doing, you, as a consumer, cause more dollars to circulate in your local community, building the wealth that begets better services and more effective government. If you find a better product for less from a chain or online, buy it if it suits your needs. (If it's a big-ticket item, I'd suggest getting a local business to price-match, but that's me.) If you find a crappy locally owned business, don't shop there. But don't do all of your shopping in Wal-Mart and Best Buy by default and then wonder things like "where did the charm of our town go?" "why are they only paving the roads near the Wal-Mart?," "why can't we afford better schools?", "Why can't we get BigBoxMart to support our local charity?" and "why don't we seem to have the money to be building anything but shopping malls on the Interstate anymore?" Instead of serious reporting on the local economy, you guys have opted for a silly marketing campaign, designed to pander to your core advertisers. You can do better. I probably can't, because I'd be forced to fit your frame. Since I disagree that it's a "silly marketing campaign," what am I to do to please you, CharlesR? One thing that doesn't quite work in your assignation of motives for me is where you're putting the cart and where you're putting the horse. I wouldn't be in the community publishing business if part of my mission wasn't to see locally owned businesses thrive. It so happens I believe that maintaining and supporting local small businesses is a fundamental part of maintaining a vital, pluralistic and self-sufficient community. We wouldn't be getting half of the stuff done that's going on in this city right now if it wasn't for local business owners and the mindset that we need to do more than build shopping malls and big box islands. I think it's an extraordinarily important thing for people to recognize the value of small business in a community like Jackson and to think twice before handing all of their money over to a big box retailer that will ferry that wealth out of the community. We've run this country for a solid 25-30 years on the Gordon Gecko school of Greed-Is-Good economics, and we can see where it's gotten us. As we continue to go through what will likely be a protracted recession and what I believe is a generational realignment to a less partisan and more civic-minded politics, I think it becomes even that much more important to fully realize the impact of your consumer decisions beyond a simple price comparison in the Sunday circulars. I'm not telling anyone to spend more on products, services or food unless they feel that doing so is beneficial in other ways -- nor am I telling them to curtail their quality of life or buy inferior products. I'm just suggesting that it can only help to be mindful about where and how you shop...and I plan to keep doing it!

Author
Todd Stauffer
Date
2009-08-28T09:57:33-06:00
ID
151356
Comment

Well then. ;-)

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2009-08-28T10:18:05-06:00
ID
151359
Comment

The buy American and buy local first initiatives have one thing in common. They both represent economic consequences and suggest how our personal consumer behavior affects outcomes in the national and local community spheres. The former represents America's loss of manufacturing base, which is huge and we have been witnessing the negative impact of this decline for the past 20 years or longer. The latter represents our loss of locally-owned businesses and the consequent loss of tax base, jobs, capital multipliers, uniqueness and environmental impact. 600 years (especially the past 100 years) of corporatism conditioning has created a society of solitary economic consumers, i.e. we only need to think of our individual selves (measure cost/benefit, status). We have been lulled into a self-satisfying ignorance of economics by design. Corporatism, on the scale we see today, requires each of us to ignore the larger consequences and connections we have personally with one another, and any allegiance to community or nation, and instead invest our allegiance to just ME, and the corporations who can satisfy ME. Buy local first is the first step in restoring those personal connections. It broadens our understanding of local economics and the consequences of our behavior. It facilitates taking personal responsibility for local economic conditions.

Author
Tery Garrett
Date
2009-08-28T11:19:20-06:00
ID
151367
Comment

iTodd, well put once again! People also need to realize that JFP writers and staff are not going to cower to criticism, rather defend their beliefs. I appreciate that from you guys. Ummm, any other questions CharlesR?

Author
Langston Moore
Date
2009-08-28T15:40:04-06:00
ID
151371
Comment

Seems as though you're asking readers to do the work you won't do. If local businesses can't compete on price and quality, then why should consumers have a duty to prop them up? If local businesses are facing unfair competition, which is what you imply, then why aren't you examining the reasons why the playing field isn't level? I think a progressive approach would be to welcome all players to Jackson, as long as the competition is fair. After all, what if a Jackson business were to expand into other cities, offering a quality product? Would you endorse efforts elsewhere to "shop local"?

Author
CharlesR
Date
2009-08-28T17:45:41-06:00
ID
151374
Comment

It's amusing to see these folks come out of the woodwork in response to our ShopLocal (tm) coverage. (One of the new commenters on the earlier thread traced back through his easily Googled e-mail address, to a corporate PR firm in Toronto that reps huge brands like ... wait for it ... Hellman's mayo! See comments under Eaves' column in Forbes for someone defending Hellman's mayo. Small world, eh? I'm sniffing that the angry PR rep tipped off Forbes, and she wrote the column about little-ole-us, but that's just a little ole guess. And here's what she wrote about Hellman's--a huge local washer--in the column: To be fair, some local-washing corporate initiatives have been ridiculous. Mayonnaise-maker Hellmann's, owned by London-based corporate behemoth Unilever, has launched an "eat local" branding campaign in Canada, apparently based around the notion that you should eat Hellmann's mayonnaise with your locally grown produce. It's confusing on many levels, not least in implying that "eating locally" is the same thing as "eating nationally" in a country of some 3.9 million square miles. What's amazing, though, is that after she called the Hellman's schedule "ridiculous," she conflated the fact that we ran a story in our locally owned and operated newspaper about "local washing" written by an author of a book on the unfair corporate schemes as somehow comparable to the Gannett Corp. running a trademarked ShopLocal scheme to market national chains as "local." This is how she immediately follow that with a diss of our taking ShopLocal to task: Localists like Donna Ladd, editor in chief of the Jackson Free Press, are meanwhile incensed by a company called ShopLocal, owned by the news chain Gannett ( GCI - news - people ), for purporting to promote local businesses to consumers. Whether ShopLocal does that or not depends on your definition of local. Go to ShopLocal.com and it will direct you to outlets of national chain stores located in your area. But the absurdity of these language-abusing corporate responses to localism highlight what's been wrong with the movement all along, namely that it has no coherent intellectual underpinning. Good Lord, woman. Can you think? And you can't have "intellectual underpinning" if you don't employ a lick of logic in this mess of a column that jumps all over the place. I could bash my own localism better than you do in this column, and make a lot more sense. (I would be wrong if I did, of course.) Regardless of how all this national response happened, though, it's pretty satisfying to have people paid by national corporations and brands considering our "localist" work such a threat that they are posting anonymously to try to discount our work. You gotta love it when Goliath sweats, and that includes corporate media.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2009-08-28T18:21:07-06:00
ID
151375
Comment

CharlesR, whoever you are, we don't expect you to understand or care about the work we've done exposing the unfair corporate schemes in these parts, including the TDN disaster that Gannett tried to pull here and elsewhere. We beat that unfair corporate practice with good ole elbow grease and free enterprise, and an alliance of local publications that fought back. We also beat them because of the constant exposes and community education we did on the issue. I'm not sure exactly what your game is, but accusing the JFP of not exposing malfeasance by corporations is simply laughable, eh?

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2009-08-28T18:24:59-06:00
ID
151377
Comment

Well, look at this. Elisabeth Eaves is a Canadian journalist, according to her Wikipedia page. What is it with all these folks from Canada getting so upset because altnerative newsweeklies in U.S. cities are defending our local businesses? She also got her master's at Columbia, but not in journalism, and she wrote a book about strippers. Well, then.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2009-08-28T19:11:05-06:00
ID
151378
Comment

CharlesR- The Buy America campaign goes back further than the '70 it actually goes back to when Hoover was Prez., when they passed the Buy America Act and it was really a crock because any product that has 51% American made parts is considered American Made under the act.

Author
BubbaT
Date
2009-08-28T19:29:15-06:00
ID
151379
Comment

CharlesR, if you were an actual reader of the JFP, you would already know that this paper does plenty of reporting on local businesses and the local economy. They've also done plenty of reporting on why the playing field isn't level. Your opinion is duly noted, however it is not, as you imply, progressive in the least. It is, in fact, the epitome of Big Business, Wall Street thinking, where profit margins rule the day. It is the same corporate-speak tunnel-vision that has American companies moving manufacturing off-shore because it's cheaper, then bemoans the fact that America doesn't make quality products. It's the same consumerist "free-market" b.s. that says "bigger is better," and "more" is better and "new" is even better than bigger and more. Local businesses can't compete with multi-national corporate giants on price when those companies (e.g., Wal-Mart) only buy from the lowest bidder and insist manufacturers lower their prices year after year, demands that can only be made through tremendous volume buying power. The fact that Wal-Mart, for example, captures markets by artificially lowering prices below cost and frequently posting losses over long periods—specifically to eliminate the local competition—is well documented. On a global scale, agri-business drives out crop diversity, for example, mandating their own genetically modified crops that can only thrive with their genetically modified fertilizers. Those practices leave entire economies at the mercy of crop failures (also well documented). Multinationals make the rules based on power and profit. Period. No one is saying consumers have a "duty" to "prop up" local businesses. Consumers should, however, engage their brains before opening their wallets. Buying from big-box retailers and huge public brands supports a global corporate status-quo and investors on Wall Street (i.e., giving more money to entities that already have quite a lot). Public corporations have little conscience and no accountability—except to their shareholders. And when everything is measured by profit margin, humanity loses out. We cling to some seriously screwed up ideas about what's important (money, stuff, more money, etc.) and relatively little focus on what actually has value and makes life worth living (health, wisdom, contributing, joy, etc.). As Tery Garrett indicated above, "buy local first" is a step to redirect us to focus on things of actual value that won't disappear when Wal-Mart decides they aren't making enough profit in our market. Simply put, there's more to life than profits, and it's my fervent wish that the JFP and publications like them never stop endorsing efforts to shop locally and think globally.

Author
Ronni_Mott
Date
2009-08-28T19:43:52-06:00
ID
151380
Comment

Well said, Ronni. And don't forget where all this dust-up started -- with a package of stories about big corporations LYING about being "local" and trying to fool people. So this particular thread of the local battle is about whether corporations are trying to mislead people into supporting them -- which is doing exactly what CharlesR sure would like to accuse us of not doing: exposing problems with the playing field. I agree with you: It sounds to me like he wants the playing field to stay just like it is, advantage Goliath. But we Davids have a few things to say on that subject, and trust me when I say that we don't give a damn what representatives and media flacks for mega-corporations think about that. The attention to our local revolution is heartening, though. I guess when I said, "bring it," they took me seriously. And that makes for one happy chick.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2009-08-28T20:01:14-06:00
ID
151383
Comment

I really didn't mean to tick you off. I'm not a representative or a flack for a mega-corporation. I'm just a guy who thinks it's a mistake to differentiate businesses based on where the owners live. To me, it seems small-minded and reactionary -- and blurs the line between doing journalism and pandering to some advertisers. Yes, tell people how some businesses are screwing 'em: that's your job. Tell people what's going on and, as "Ronni M" says, encourage them to "engage their brains before opening their wallets." Anyway, you didn't answer my earlier question: Would you endorse a "shop local" effort in another town if it meant telling consumers to not patronize a Jackson-based business? And here's a bonus question: Will the JFP adopt a policy of accepting advertising only from locally owned businesses?

Author
CharlesR
Date
2009-08-30T12:51:24-06:00
ID
151385
Comment

P.S. Ms. Ladd, I would think Mississippi would be the last place where a progressive paper would be fomenting distrust of "outsiders."

Author
CharlesR
Date
2009-08-30T17:03:20-06:00
ID
151387
Comment

From CharlesR: Would you endorse a "shop local" effort in another town if it meant telling consumers to not patronize a Jackson-based business? And here's a bonus question: Will the JFP adopt a policy of accepting advertising only from locally owned businesses? I can't speak for JFP. But the concept behind go local first, to answer your question, is yes, encourage all communities to source locally as a first step in a buying decision. It's a matter of balancing a very imbalanced system that has become dominated by non-local corporations. Raising the ratio of locally sourced goods and services will begin to correct the imbalance. Trade between communities is a good thing, provided each community in the trade network participates from a position of economic stability and health. Before the advent of corporations in Europe in the 14th century, this was how trade was conducted, which included complimentary local currencies. The aim of local first is to create vitality and strength in the local economy that in turn lifts quality of life. Trading surpluses (export) and importing non-locally produced goods (those a locale is incapable of producing) becomes mutually satisfying.

Author
Tery Garrett
Date
2009-08-31T08:37:09-06:00
ID
151389
Comment

Come on, CharlesR. Anybody with a brain can see the difference between distrust of mega-corporations coming in and running our local folks out of business (and with unfair and dishonest practices; don't forget the story we're talking about is about *lying* about local cred) and, oh, say going to an area where the government is supporting terrorism of people of one race and helping bring attention to it. So don't try to mix metaphors in a ridiculous fashion in your effort to defend corporations. It makes no sense. We've long been on the record against corporations that lie and cheat to try to control local commerce, and that it nothing to apologize for. (Remember the TDN controversy; it was a combination of us raising awareness locally and nationally, as well as good old free enterprise that beat them back.) And what we've done here since we launched in 2002 (and brought the slogan, "Think Global, Shop Local" to Jackson) is raising awareness so people know where their dollars are going when they frequent and spend money with national chains (which includes international newspaper corporations that holds the trademark to ShopLocal and uses it to promote national corporations). Otherwise, Tery addressed your other question. This is about Thinking Local First. I don't say you never go into a national chain; all of us need to and do on occasion. However, I will not walk into a Walmart based on their track record on many fronts, and I certainly will not support in any way a corporation that tries to lie and cheat to hurt local businesses (such as the Ledger tried to do with TDN). And because I'm invested in Jackson, when I do go to a chain, I try to make sure that it's within the city limits. Obviously, there are exceptions, but that's what the "First" is about. If we all Think Local First, then our city's business climate will be so much stronger. I also think it is incumbent on Mississippians to call out national media whenever they come here and get it wrong. I've done that many times, and it has nothing to do with fomenting distrust of outsiders. It is about calling out the scoundrels and the folks who parachute in and try to get famous and/or rich off of us and our history without bothering to tell the whole story. (Also known in my circles as the Connie-Chung-Looking-for-a-Klansman syndrome.) In fact, the author of the local-washing story we ran, along with several local pieces, lives in California. The difference is that she isn't going around the country lying to people -- Stacey is doing the kind of research and work that can help all of our local communities and business climbates get stronger if people will pay heed. She's an outsider we trust -- because she's on our side.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2009-08-31T09:43:30-06:00
ID
151396
Comment

CharlesR, the only way your questions even make sense is if you see mega-corporations as equal and fair contenders for business. They are neither, as has been pointed out over and over again, here and in countless other places. The fact that you opine that the JFP is somehow discriminating against big business (which is absurd on its face) in a "reactionary and small minded" manner is evidence that you remain unaware of the issues, which range from big business' unfair and outright dishonest marketing tactics (the subject of this particular thread) to the way they exploit people (including supporting sweatshop and child labor practices overseas) and destroy environments. All of these practices and many, many more are publicly and well documented. Remember big tobacco executives lying to Congress about the dangers of smoking, denying their own studies? It's the same phenomenon. And even if those mega-corps don't do those underhanded things and actually are honest competitors, you still might ask yourself who benefits and who you prefer to support with your dollars. Would you rather your money go into the pockets of anonymous shareholders (aka Wall Street), or your neighbors and your community? Every dollar spent with a local business puts about 45 cents back into the local economy for schools, roads, etc. Every dollar spent with a multinational corporation puts 13 cents into the local economy. Stewardship of the planet and its people, and the integrity of how we act in the world begins at home—with you and me. "Local first" emphasizes that value. Conversely, Wall Street has only one mandate: make money. Given a choice, greed is not a value I care to support on a local or global scale.

Author
Ronni_Mott
Date
2009-08-31T12:57:06-06:00
ID
151428
Comment

Is it possible for you to argue without resorting to insults and bumper-sticker sloganeering? You've left yourself so many loopholes in your arguments, Ms. Ladd, that it reinforces my view that this is more marketing shtick and less coherent economic strategy. And you didn't answer one of my two questions, but I can infer an answer from your last post: Were Walmart to buy lots of ad lineage in your pages, you would happily accept the money and argue that this mega-corporation is an "outsider you trust -- because it's on your side." Instead of Shop Local First, why not urge readers to patronize businesses that pay a living wage? Or have a workforce that reflects the gender and racial make-up of Mississippi?

Author
CharlesR
Date
2009-08-31T17:47:47-06:00
ID
151429
Comment

look, like i said before, i didn't mean to tick you off, and don't plan on continuing this, and you don't have to post this. you guys do good work, and i'm glad you're around. i just think you can play at a higher level.

Author
CharlesR
Date
2009-08-31T17:57:57-06:00
ID
151438
Comment

Wow. JFP v. CharlesR. How did it digress to this? I agree with most of this editors note, Todd. Awesome job! The shoplocal.com thing is a sham, and I really appreciate ya'll bringing it to surface! The crap that Eaves and Flanagan, along with supporting corporations, are trying to pull is unacceptable. I have a problem, however, with this: "Unfortunately, those "big box" public corporations don't give a rat's butt about the "locale" where the store is located. Indeed, they can't. They're corporations." When I first moved to Pensacola, to go back to school, the first job I could find was working at Best Buy, who we'll just call "big box." Not only was I started at a competitive wage, but I was also able to make my own hours, as most employees were; thats a logistical nightmare for many local stores. For every 40 hours of volunteer work I did at an organization, Big box donated $1000 to them. For instance: I do work with Odyssey of the Mind, an organization which promotes creativity and critical thinking skills in kids, and each competition season I volunteer roughly 40 hours to them. My local team received the check for $1000, hand delivered by me. Additionally, Big box has a group called "viewpoint"(each store has one) which is designed to get Big box employees involved in their local communities, among other things like being a voice for store employees. Our viewpoint team speaheaded the volunteering of ~600 man hours to Habitat for Humanity in one week. Big box wrote them a check for $15,000; it was hand delivered to the local "chapter" of HfH by Big box employees. On Easter about 30 employees and I handmade easter baskets(materials bought by Big box) and handed them out to the pediatric side of the intensive care unit at Sacred Heart Hospital. Oh yeah, and when Hurricane Ivan hit Big box was nearly destroyed. In not caring about the "locale" they paid a full paycheck to any employee who had documented 35hrs, or more, of volunteering at a local charity; this went on for 3 weeks while the store was being rebuilt. I realize that there is an exception to all rules, and that Big box reaps massive profits, but what's listed above is just my personal experience. I also realize that not all corporations act this way, and really neither do all Big boxes. I firmly believe that it is the people which each store employ's that make the store good for the community, whether or not it is locally or nationally owned(of course there are exceptions). I feel that greed is inherent to human beings and just because a business is locally owned doesnt mean that it is immune to the diseases which plague "mega-corporations."(such as:"unfair and outright dishonest marketing tactics", "the way they exploit people", "and destroy environments") Dont interpret this as me defending "mega-corporations"; because I dont. How can anyone argue with 45/100 vs 13/100?

Author
Ryan
Date
2009-08-31T21:48:10-06:00
ID
151456
Comment

Great discussion y'all. Sorry, I had to dip my head out a bit to do locally owned small business stuff. ;-) CharlesR -- I apologize if you've felt blowback. You came on a bit strong and seemed dogged in your assignation of motives to me/JFP for writing about the idea of Think Local First, and when somebody keeps windmilling at you, the reaction is to put up your arms, block your face and aim for an uppercut. ;-) We may just have to agree-to-disagree about the idea that Think Local First is "bumper sticker sloganeering." Sometimes having a nice name for something can really help with retention and education. There's a whole lot more to the idea -- and the national movement -- than just the name, and the people focusing in this area really do seem to be good people with good ideas. I personally am extremely committed to continuing to promote the idea and the logic behind it, so I apologize if that diminishes me or the JFP in your eyes. As for whether we would take advertising dollars from corporations -- it would be irresponsible for me to say that I would never take corporate dollars. I am not 100% against public corporations, but I do have problems with certain retailers. (And I think there are absolutely flaws in the way many public corporations are incentivized by growth mandates and Wall Street at the expense of other factors both moral and fiscal.) I also tend to shy away from moralizing in my acceptance of an ad -- we accept ads from candidates, campaigns and even businesses I've disagreed with. I can tell you that as of right now I would not take an ad from Wal-Mart unless it was in support of some sort of local charitable venture or specific event. For a variety of reasons I would simply not want their money for a price-and-item or image ad. Maybe one day that would change, but it would be because Wal-Mart became a fundamentally different company. (Or because JFP did and I didn't have as much control over that decision. ;-) But if Best Buy wanted to advertise the Geek Squad or Lowe's was advertising a building class, I would take into consideration whether they would be hurting a local competitor who I currently work with in that space. I try my best to be loyal to the folks that brung me to the dance, but, again, it's not a zero-sum game. One thing worth noting, by the way, is that I'm the *publisher* of the Jackson Free Press. In that role, I feel it's my duty to help advertisers market themselves to our readership. Being an effective local marketing tool is really the only way that JFP survives to report the news that others won't. Fortunately, it's also a worthy cause in and of itself, in large part because locally owned business is such an important component (not the whole thing) of a vibrant community. I spend most of my day working with my sales team and meeting with advertisers to shape their message, write their ads and so on. The fact that Think Local First would help locally owned businesses in Jackson is really not an ulterior motive for my support of the ideal -- it's the reason I'm in this business at all. Chicken and egg, cart and horse. (I promise you, there are easier ways to make money than being in the newspaper business right now. I could be working in some huge corporation's IT department. ;-) I just got finished reading "Who's Your City" by Richard Florida, where he continued to refine his thesis for what types of cities grow economically. And these days it seems to boil down to something rather simple -- areas that offer authenticity and "openness" are the areas that grow. After all, those cities attract young "creative class" talent, and that's the key to growth. Don't offer authenticity and openness? You don't grow. One way to ensure you don't grow, is to let your city tip too far into cookie-cutter chain store experience. Lose authenticity and you're cutting off your future. I believe that to my core and it's something that I'm fighting for. For the most part, that fight needs to be for a level playing field -- no tax incentives, no infrastructure re-worked for big malls and big chains. No subsidies for running locals out of business. *** Your other point about the "outsiders" is a non-sequitur. There really is a difference between a multi-national corporation and the Freedom Riders, for instance, and it really is a bit offensive to conflate the two, although I'm sure that's not your intention. Instead of Shop Local First, why not urge readers to patronize businesses that pay a living wage? Or have a workforce that reflects the gender and racial make-up of Mississippi? See, this might be the key to our disagreement: Why does it have to be "instead"? I don't think it's a zero-sum game. Indeed, that's why it's "Think Local First." If a locally owned business doesn't measure up in other ways, don't shop there. If the price is better elsewhere and that's your core concern, shop there. But if the price is the same (or close and other factors are at play), the quality is the same or better and the service is up to par...then Think Local First! ;-)

Author
Todd Stauffer
Date
2009-09-01T12:31:50-06:00

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