If you are a small business operator starting out in a new direction, as I am, there is so much to consider beyond the usual business plan if you are also a political creature, as I am.
When I was a graduate student studying semiotic analysis of cultural systems, my major professor told me there were two kinds of people: lumpers and splitters. There are those who are contextual and inclusive and those who are detail oriented and exclusive. I try to include as much contextual information as possible in my decision making and I can get bogged down in details, but usually I get wrapped up in threads or linked connections, so I think of myself as a lumper.
So today I am writing about the some of the significant, but often under-valued, contexts within which local business takes place.
We are careening into shopping season. This Friday is called Black Friday. While some say the term relates to Philadelphia and traffic snarls noted on this day in the 1960s, I am talking about its meaning as a day when stores go into the black, as in show a profit. There is some truth to this meaning especially in difficult economic times. Holiday shopping can make or break businesses. It is also promotes buying a bunch of plastic, foreign-made items that no one really needs.
One approach to countering this cult of consumerist crap buying is Buy Nothing Day. Observance of this day is counter to the concept of Black Friday. I don’t go for the stuck in traffic purchase frenzy of flaring frustrations and tempers that is this the day after Thanksgiving. So this year I plan to have this Friday be a Walk to a Neighborhood Store or Buy Local Day. This is where I am a lumper and not a splitter. I am combining the reality of this Friday being a day off from work for most folks when Christmas shopping can be done with the reality that we as patriotic Americans and concerned local community members in that I will NOT go to Target, WalMart, or any Big Box Stores and only go to locally owned businesses. This is a compromise as I’m not saying don’t go to local franchises, and I’m just saying buy local, don’t buy junk, and if possible shop in your neighborhood… and maybe bake something, visit a neighbor, or play a board game with your family.