When I first moved back to town, I decided that I wouldn't shop at Walmart and I was going to support True Value instead of Lowe's (if you knew my hardware budget, you would know this is a big deal). In general, I was determined to support the locally owned stores, instead of the big boxes.
There is no problem shopping for groceries other places beside Walmart. It costs a little more and the produce is better. I have religiously shopped at the farmer's market on Saturday for years (my Father and I go together, early. If you want to check the floor show).
I ran into a problem with Murdale True Value almost immediately. First of all, they pay lousy and hire poorly. Sure Morris and 2 or 3 others are good, but everyone else in there knows nothing (or at least, less then me) about hardware. Then you need help finding something and the employee takes you to where it should be and the shelf was bare (seems like they had a fight with the supplier or something). Finally, there was something I really needed and True Value didn't have it, so I went to Lowe's. The first thing you notice about Lowe's is the size and amount of stock, then you notice that the employers know something. Go to plumbing and find a retired plumber to help you. Tools had a fellow who used to be a coal miner, who now does woodworking as a hobby. The prices were about 50% to 75%, compared to True Value on a few items I checked, that I had bought recently.
Over the course of 6 months, I started going to Lowe's more and more and True Value less and less. Lowes has better help. They give stock options to the employees and pay better. The people who work at Lowe's care more about helping you then at True Value. Lowe's earned my business and I like going there.
My boycott of Walmart continued for years, but then it started to show some cracks. The union electrician that I normally use suggested I go buy an electric gadget at Walmart. I asked him about shopping there and he told me, they have the best prices. I asked the anti-union questions and he didn't know anything about it. Shortly after I was talking to a Schnuck's employee about something and he told me he didn't shop at Walmart for groceries, but did shop there for everything else. Wow! Talked to union members at SIU, they shop at Walmart. I took a step back and had to ask myself, if all the union people are shopping at Walmart, who am I helping and hurting by not shopping there? Seems like the union people don't care, so I was just hurting myself.
The first thing you notice shopping at Walmart is the amount of inventory. The employees are nice, but not knowledgeable (so Lowe's is better), but they are no worse then most. Walgreen's people are much better, I shop there when I can. A little thing of yogurt is $.89 at Schnuck's and $.53 at Walmart. A case of soda for the guys at the office is $2 less. I don't shop there often, because I'm price insensitive, but I can sure see why people do. They have everything you need and it is cheap.
In the end, the people of Southern Illinois have decided to shop at the big boxes. I don't understand what the difference between Wendy's, Walmart, Best Buy, Walgreen's, Lowe's and most stores in the Mall. All of them ship the profits to owners out of town, it would be better to shop at locally owned stores, but few do all the time.
Does anyone shop at The Co-op and Arnold's exclusively? Is there a locally owned drug store to choose from? Who eats at locally owned restaurants and avoids the national chains? The answer is almost no one in Carbondale is really walking the walk, we have sold our soul to the national chains. The reason of course, is that the national chains are better then a badly managed, locally owned businesses.
I got this great Sheila pamphlet where she says that she, "Communicates with locally owned business," and Brad "Claims credit for recruiting big box chain stores." Sure is a stunning accomplishment when you "communicate" with someone. Next thing you know, she might start trying to help them.
You have to wonder, what should the city do about that empty Kmart building? Let it sit empty? I have a whole thing planned for the Dick's Sports issue, so stay tuned.
In the end, the big boxes are what Carbondale wants and what America wants. It is politically pandering to say anything else.
How about you? Do you shop at any national chains or do you just buy from locally owned businesses?
Your comments should be interesting.