One of the pleasures of walking down Main Streets all over America is the ability to enjoy the charming unique items offered at small stores and boutiques. Sadly, the Mom & Pop storefront so uniquely American is quickly giving way to big box retailers offering Americans a cookie cutter shopping experience. Today is Small Business Saturday. As we kickoff the Christmas shopping experience this year, there is no better way to send a positive message about supporting small business than to spend a portion of our holiday budget at one of these small stores.
When I was growing up, my Mom and Dad ran a pizaa place in a little town in Indiana. They worked day and night. For a pizza place, they had a great business, but they never made any money to speak of because of the heavy tax and regulation burden they were forced to operate under. Sadly, that story has only gotten worse over the years for America’s small businessperson.
Government interference isn’t the only problem. Competitors like Walmart are spreading like cancer all over the country forcing small businesses out, particularly in small town America. The result is the changing face of rural America. Now the charming town square in many small towns across the country is nothing but boarded up businesses and For Rent signs while along the local freeway there is a new Walmart under construction.
I’m sure there are many readers out there who are Walmart fans. Not me. I’ll never set foot in a Walmart store because of what I believe they’ve done to small town America. As far as I’m concerned, there is nothing there but cheap Chinese made stuff and a bad store experience. Sadly, more and more retailers in America are becoming like Walmart. They offer the same store experience with the same merchandise from coast to coast. What is uniquely American is quickly becoming something akin to the whole big government mindset taking over the country. I guess there is some belief that it’s only “fair” for Americans in every city in the country to be able to purchase the exact same thing. If this keeps up it won’t be long before visiting unique places like San Francisco and New Orleans won’t seem much different but for the landscape. At least as far as the shopping goes, everything will look like one giant Walmart.
I think Walmart may be just a symptom of a larger problem. As we all become more uniform and equal, it may not be too long before there is nothing uniquely American about us. Instead, we’ll all be buying our Chinese produced merchandise at Walmart, getting our standard sized cars from Government Motors, living in our government approved house, and raising our permitted number of children according to some government handbook.
If we allow what is truly Amerian to die, that’s where I”m afraid we’re headed.
Supporting a small local store may seem like a small way to avert this trend, but it’s not. It’s the beginning of keeping America from becoming a place we don’t even recognize.