Sunday, September 09, 2007
We the sheeple, or why I don't do Big Box.
Moving past boarded up small shops, little hardware stores, plumbing supplies centres , I am more than saddened at the passing of these small landmarks of a slower pace of life. These old corner store reliables with their personal touch - the proprietor knowing the customers, their likes and dislikes along with their hatchings, matchings and dispatchings, now all ending in an inconspicuous death rattle - strangled by the creeping virus of Big Box Blobbery.
The outskirts of every town is now looking just about the same. Even the restaurants are just about all chains, plonked down in the competitive sprawl of feuding chainstores, Mike’s, Kelsey’s, Australian Outback, Boston Pizza.
Maybe it’s me. I just can’t bear those monolithic impersonal yawning caverns of endless aisles and know-nothing student staffers (oops, ‘associates’). I resolved, four years ago now, that I would never darken the doorway of a Walmart, Home Depot, et al, again. Since then I have watched the documentary “The High Cost of Low Price” which explores the rotten underbelly of the business practices of Walmart and other such chains.
I don’t feel particularly virtuous about this resolution of mine. It is fairly self-serving. I like the little stores, the personal attention, the “I’ll order it in for you.” I can wait. The first sign of maturity after all is deferred gratification and that has been one of my bugaroos all my life: immediate satisfaction. So if I can wait until (s)he orders it in I can bask a little in the arms of my own ‘I’m all grown up now, mother’ state.
Little bookstores are another victim of the super-large cavernous virus. How few of these are left, I wonder. I counted one in downtown St. John’s, very few in downtown Toronto. Indigo and Chapters have taken over, along with Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Is this a good thing? I do use Amazon along with Abe’s for used and out of print. Am I part of the problem then?
Recently I read a book called “The King’s English” which I highly recommend, about the survival of a small bookstore in the states. Against all odds. So it is possible to buck the sweeping incoming tide of impersonality.
The world is getting more and more cookie-cutter. I keep thinking we are not too far away from “Soylent Green” the movie that predicts a future of blank sameness, even to our food, even when we run out of food.
Big Corp along with Big Pharm and Big Agro are slowly seeping into our very souls, our governments have already been swallowed up by them – some more than others.
Some days, like today, I feel kind of hopeless about it all.
Other days, I just concentrate on my own path and what I can do to make a difference. To keep bucking the system and step back and say “wait a minute, here!”