September 6, 2008

Every $ you and I spend strengthens Big Boxes…or Independent Businesses, it’s up to us. [T Bar]

[Here’s Part I]

Last Wednesday, I was buying my local piece of dead cow for my Humane Society rescue mutt, Redford, when I ran three friends who work with three big LOHAS businesses, all of whom have a great match in elephant’s readership but who have decided to advertise in mass media, corporate-owned, franchise publications like The Daily Camera, Colorado Daily [which, though owned by Scripps, still calls itself ‘Boulder’s Independent Voice’], ReDirect Guide [a green publication that goes into various local markets and competes with local indie media operations that don’t have half the sales staff or backing]. 

Then I ran into the American Dream, personified: a 40-year-old gutsy indie entrepreneur who started a business only to get priced up and out by Whole Foods, which controlled more than half its distribution. He (or she) was closing the business that week.

Then I ran into my good friend Christian Griffith, a hardcore climber who runs Verve out of a funky cool old autobody shop in what’s left of funky cool East Pearl St., a strip of Boulder that’s fast turning into multi-million-dollar condoland (a recent development did, after pushing out a great old restaurant, put some solar panels on its roof, at least). Christian, as per usual, was half-hearted about continuing to compete with the North Faces, Pranas, Patagonias…the big boys…Verve is a small operation devoted to making climbing and yoga clothing for those devoted to climbing and yoga…all the clothing is stitched by ‘grannies’ working in Boulder, whereas his competition makes their wares halfway across the world–questionable both eco-wise and labor-wise.

Today, Saturday, I met a buncha friends (including two NYers) at Farmer’s and got another bone for Redford, and my good friend/colleague Deb said that if her lovely lingerie boutique didn’t get some support, and fast, she wouldn’t be able to pay her rent. So go buy some lingerie, boys and girls! Go and shop, even buy something for 10 bucks, and you’ll get 20% off for the next few days—and you’ll enable her to squeak by on rent.

We’ve come a long way, folks. elephant readers and our Whole Foodsy, yoga-doing, politically active demographic say they’ll pay extra for products they believe in—fair-labor, organic, local. But independent? Who cares, right? Go to Tarzhay, go to Costco or Home Depot—the prices are so much less and who, in this Bushified economy, has the luxury of spending 110 cents on the dollar just to create a better, kinder, fairer world?

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