Sunday, September 30, 2007

support small and local business

Many of the outspoken champions of socially responsible business such as Ben and Jerry's, The Body Shop, Stonyfield Farms, Green and Black's chocolate, Tom's of Maine and Aveda eventually sold to corporate conglomerates. Brash young Internet companies are gobbled up by Google or another huge firm. Who can blame them? They came up with a good idea and product. Why shouldn't they make a fortune selling?

I applaud Gary Erickson who started Clif bar 8 years ago and almost sold his company to Quaker Oats for $120 million dollars. He didn't sell!

"If we had sold to Quaker Oats, we would just be another bar on the shelf," Erickson explains, sitting at a small desk in his surprisingly modest office "We would not have an environmental program; we would not have given $1.2 million last year to charity in money and products. We would not have gone organic. No one working here would even be here now."

Saying no to conventional-style growth has made Clif Bar a stronger brand, showing that small is not only beautiful but successful. The company now features numerous new energy snacks and has grown 20 percent in each of the last two years.

Clif Bars are one of the few energy bars I enjoy so I am so glad Gary Erickson kept his company. I applaud him. I encourage you to buy a Clif bar when you are in that isle trying to decide. Beyond that I encourage everyone to support small businesses everywhere.

Better yet, spend your money locally. Buy you next gift at a local gift shop instead of Target. In the past I have handed over my dollars to Target, Barnes and Noble. Borders, Starbucks, etc. But I worry about these huge corporations. And I have found it to be rewarding to visit a small store instead of the mall.

The other day I bought a unique basket for $5 and beautiful blazer for $15 at the local thrift store, went on to walk through the Issaquah Farmers Market where I got some locally grown organic tomatoes. Then I went to PCC, a consumers co-op for most of my groceries. There is also a locally owned food outlet where I pick up a few things, too. I have to admit I was feeling smug but free somehow.

I have a good friend who shops at the Goodwills in the area and has the most amazing wardrobe. She is an inspiration and fashion saavy.

Do we trade cheap and convenient for no choice at all? Cheap and convenient is a myth, don't buy into it (pun intended)! In retrospect, my day of conscious shopping was cheaper than if I had shopped at Safeway and Pennys. I saved lots of time walking around a smaller store. And I felt really good, the best part.

No comments: