The Small-Mart Revolution by Michael Shuman

25/06/2015 — Alexia McClure

Do you think local and buy local? This book discusses the reasons why you should.

We live in a world that is increasingly dominated by global business (banks, utilities, retailers), global trends (economic shifts, technology breakthroughs, urbanisation) and major global issues (climate change, migration, globalisation). As consumers we get used to being surrounded by the same big names and quite often see the acquisition of global brands as aspirational and a measure of status and success. The question is does it have to be this way and what does this do to the local economy?

In The Small-Mart Revolution, How Local Businesses are Beating the Global Competition Michael Shuman explores the dominance of global companies and argues that the detrimental impact they can on local communities can be countered by developing a thriving local business base.

Characterising big business as TINA’s (there is no alternative) and local businesses as LOIS (local ownership and import substitution), Schuman pitches one against the other in a good v’s bad business struggle. His premise is that large corporations arrive, soak up resources and then leave either by physically moving or extracting profits. The alternative he proposes is local organisations that keeps economic value within the community through employment, wealth creation and perhaps most importantly, a business base that is more deeply rooted in the community and therefore less likely to have a ‘catastrophic exit’.

Schuman develops his message for consumers, investors, entrepreneurs and policy makers giving each a checklist of actions they can and should take to positively support LOIS companies. He supports these by examples of US towns and cities that have seen regeneration, increased employment and reduced deprivation as a result of mobilising local communities to support local business.

Given the various challenges facing Jersey there is something in this book for everyone. Shuman asks you to make your decisions on leisure or employment, government policy or shopping habits on how they can positively benefit ‘local’.

For me, the TINA, LOIS proposition is too polarised and Jersey illustrates how both can benefit society, but if everyone on the island read this book and made one more local buying decision as a result then I think we could be in a better place.

Finally, my thanks go to the 7.45 Breakfast Club who have copies of the book on loan to members and you can read more about the Small-Mart Revolution at www.small-mart.org.

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