Consumer Dollars

My money is powerful. Not as powerful as that of someone who has a lot more of it, but powerful nonetheless. So is yours. The way we choose to spend our consumer dollars is important because with it we make the choice to support or not support local businesses who provide goods and services to our communities. Why spend our money with businesses whose practices are not up to par, whose customer service is poor or whose ethics don’t measure up? I certainly do not spend my money at sub-par establishments and will drive quite a distance to frequent businesses who provide excellent products and services.

Take, for example, the Family Dollar Store in Gatesville, NC. It’s really the only game in town. To be perfectly honest, the place could be out of business it’s been so long since I’ve been out that way but since it’s just an example, let’s say they are still taking people’s money… The Family Dollar is the only variety store for, oh, 40 miles in any direction.
Gatesville, NC is small. It’s the county seat and therefore there are a few buildings with unlocked doors during weekday business hours: the Courthouse, Library, Extension Office, Post Office and local attorney. There is also a barber shop, a drug store/video store/luncheonette, a funeral home and a closed-down grocery store. Not exactly a thriving metropolis. The two roads passing through Gatesville slow down like a piece of salt water taffy stretched to the breaking point, just at the spot where the taffy is all see-through and you think it might break so you hold your breath and then flip the hunk so that it’s doubled again. The roads through this little town are such that you have to slow down, almost to a stop when you pass through but once you’re on the other side you forget you ever saw it, you’re just looking to keep moving on toward that sweet little bite.
What I’m trying to say, bad taffy metaphor aside, is that choices are limited and finding inexpensive goods is impossible unless you leave the county or go to Family Dollar. I used to shop there. Used to. In fact, I spent a lot of money there purchasing things like shampoo and detergent, Christmas wrapping paper and school supplies. It was something to do on a hot day, somewhere to go that wasn’t an hour away but some of the employees in that store were just impossible. Once, they refused to let me shop because my infant was wearing socks but no shoes. There IS a sign on the door about shoes being required but seriously? The child could not walk yet. Same kid needs to pee two years later? ‘Sorry ma’am, we don’t have a bathroom.’ Really? What happens when you folks have to go? You use the corn field out back? I mean, the person might have just told me that they do not allow public use of their restroom but to lie and say the building is not equipped with one? Puhlease.
Eventually I was confronted with The Last Straw. I had Eli, Travis and Martina with me. The kids went to look at toys and were, apparently, shooting one another with plastic guns when the assistant manager caught them. She jumped right in and ripped them a new one, I heard her and thought, “Okay. They probably deserve that,” and kept on with my shopping. I mean, Eli and Travis were both teenagers, they knew better. But then? Said Ass. Man. went to the back of the store and began shouting to another employee in a voice that could be heard throughout the store how she had ‘handled’ those ‘little brats’. She went on and on about how she had put them down, put them in their place and exactly what she had said to do so. She then began talking about the damage she’d do if she caught them at it again.
Hmmm. I lifted my little shopping basket as high as I could and dropped it, loudly, into the floor. (This caused more shouting, though a change in topic did occur.) Then I found the kids and left. We have never returned. Nor will we. I figure that the result of my not shopping there is probably a net loss to them of around $2,000 per year. Not a huge amount of money to a corporation but it’s a lot of money to me and I feel good about my choice to spend it elsewhere.
I could repeat a litany of experiences like this and choices I’ve made about where to spend my money and, more importantly, with whom. I firmly believe in boycotting as a viable political action and my choices about where to purchase the items we use in our daily lives reflect my own small efforts to only frequent businesses who offer excellent customer service and great products. And yes, I still go to Wal Mart sometimes.

About Bettina Colonna Essert

Illuminated Magdalene High Priestess and facilitator of empowerment and healing circles for girls and women, including a monthly Red Tent Temple. BA in English, minor in anthropology. Waldorf homeschool mom. Reiki master, cranial sacral therapist, herbalist, menstruvist, feminist, epicurian.
This entry was posted in activism, children, decency, health and well-being, opinion, reviews, rural life. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Consumer Dollars

  1. Patricia says:

    I love how you dropped the basket. =) I once had a BAD experience at a Dollar Tree in PA. Never went back, (to that one as least) and my taste for them is still tainted.

  2. We do have a choice! And our money is powerful… if only more people would stand for good service and good products- and not just convenience. Thanks for posting!

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