Yesterday I was emailed this video by Moveon.org:
While I think it’s hilarious, I also find it pretty serious. Kate and I talked about this a few weeks ago, and I think it’s really important to talk about it in context.
Let me begin with another chain: Walmart. As my friend S has pointed out, yes, sometimes it’s cheaper. I get it. But is that all that matters? Maybe for some people, and I understand that right now I am lucky to have a job, and a support system. But can we really turn a blind eye to our morals when we can get a bookshelf $10 cheaper? How does that feel on your conscious? I know for some, it doesn’t matter. Target and Walmart are the same in their eyes: giant corporations that swindle you with crap that becomes broken and unusable as the Target 2011 rolls out, promising shiny new low prices and bookshelves.
And, for the most part, I agree. Why is Target selling me something that won’t last? Why wouldn’t we strive for things that will last us, as strong as the so-called American spirit? Where would you buy kitchen supplies if not for Target? Towels? Stationary? Make-up?
When I was in China, I reluctantly shopped at Walmart for my needs. I was only there for two months, and I didn’t know where else to go. But I am sure if I had spent some time in the Hutongs around my campus, I would have been able to find almost everything I needed. And you can bet I would have been that much more proficient in Mandarin. I have never been inside a US Walmart, and I hope that will be true for the rest of my life. I have morals, and I try hard to live by them every day, not just when it’s convenient.
But, some people think Target is different. Or is it? I read this article, and was surprised to find that maybe, Target isn’t as Anti-Walmart as we think. Also this article, which explains the similarities between them. I have a friend moving here in a few weeks, and no-doubt Target will be on our minds as we go through the shopping list one needs to start in an apartment. But what do we do if we don’t go to Target? Where would we go? Well, I aim to find out. I understand that not everyone thinks their money will make a difference, that not spending $50 at Target isn’t going to make them miss a beat. But what if everyone you KNEW did that? That’d be a lot more money…and think of the effects around the country.
What if we got tools and cleaning supplies from our local hardware store? Kitchen supplies from our local kitchen store, etc., etc.? I know, I know, big brands are just as bad: why would I pay more to buy a hammer from a small ACE than from Home Depot or Target? Because I want that small retailer to stay. I want them to thrive, and to pay their employees more, to know my name when I walk in, for them to understand my problems. Now, maybe this is the Michigan country-girl in me, or the small business toy store worker in me, but I think that’s important.
Living in LA, everyone strives to go to local restaurants, to places small and large, places successful and booming, to places small and uncrowded. Why aren’t we the same with the rest of what we buy? Now, I know that sometime in the near future I am going to cave to the bullseye. I am going to go to Target to get something I know they sell. But what if we all tried that much harder to just buy local? Could we really help LA’s economy grow? Maybe, just maybe, we could.