In the retail gift, home and gourmet food industries it seems that we are often in a David versus Goliath scenario. Independent retailers as the Davids have gained ground recently against the Goliaths, or the big-box retailers. However, Goliaths still rule retail, and to a degree they have contributed to the destruction of many American jobs in the process.
We can change the face of American economics without government intervention, but it is going to require a grass-roots effort.
Grass roots… A contagious movement that springs from individuals, communities and social associations which is not government sponsored or mandated, come from the heart and seeks to produce positive and lasting change in a society.
An example of a successful grass-roots movement is the now mainstream concept of going “green”. The green movement is changing our everyday lives in both social and business areas. Green business is good business, not just for the revenue stream it provides (which is a life saver); but for its lasting, positive benefits.
So what kind of new grass-roots movement do we need? Made in America!
It begins with reading labels. When I go shopping for anything (typically tools, apparel, and electronics), I first find out where the product was made before I make my buying decision. I often wind up not buying anything because the labels are telling me places like Vietnam, China, Indonesia, or some 3rd world country where corporations have sought out the cheapest labor (often without regard to anything else). When I do not buy I always make it a point to tell someone why. The way to change the mentality of large-scale importers (most large retail companies in America today) is to demonstrate our displeasure by affecting their wallets.
Recently I was shopping for a pair of khakis. The Dockers brand at Kohl’s (a department store near me) were “on sale” advertising 60% off. They showed a “list” price of $70, but all pants were marked at $29. So I looked at the labels and found: Dominican Republic, Haiti, China, and Malaysia. How many pairs did I buy? You guessed it…zero! I realize I may be the exception here but what they haven’t realized is that the slacks are really worth $70 and if made in the US would sell for that in my opinion. We are trading American Jobs to buy Dockers for $29…no thanks.
As a retail business operator, your buying power, while just a fraction of Wal-Mart’s and Kohl’s, will represent an opportunity for the grass roots to take hold. So if you tell your wholesale sales representatives to rep products made in America, they will also carry that message to their National Sales Manager and so on. I realize this is very simplistic and other factors are at work, such as manufacturing capability, competitive pricing, and so on, but there are answers available if we really want to seek them.
Our David-versus-Goliath battle is different because the stone we use is intended show that there is a better way for all of us. We need the Goliaths in our economy, but we need them to help build our American manufacturing segment back to pre-Wal-Mart levels, and we can do just that.
I may be a dreamer, but dreams are what realities are born from. Are you a dreamer too?