the ever expanding universe of american banality

This is a post for my beloved Troll, who thinks ive had my head spun around by my friendships with leftists, conspiracinistas and artists. Over on Fishy's blog, we got into a bit of a debate on restaurant franchises, Wal-Mart, europe, the war, and the american "way of life". And i think the Troll challenged me to a dogfight. as a rottweiler, i cannot refuse a challenge. So in this post i will present my point of view and argue that it is not only not "leftist" but far more conservative than the argument Troll makes.

Why O'Charleys and Walmart suck

You're right Troll, when you say that there is nothing wrong with an individual choosing to open an O'Charleys (from now on OC) or an individual to choose to patronize an OC. You're probably right too, in noting that a franchise restaurant has a better chance of surviving the Obama anti-small business economy. But i am making arguments on two principal fronts: aesthetics and culture, and local economy.

In the united states, you could be plopped down in any city and be confronted with slabs of road lined with one box restaurant after another: taco bell, McD, long john silvers, longhorn, chilis, OC and all the rest. the familiar sameness feeds into an american psyche of a never ending smorgasbord in the land of plenty where cheap food and goods are our national birthright. the blandness of the offerings and the predictability of them anesthetize the senses in the same way our collective 8 hours of television dulls the mind. I think of franchises (and Wal-Mart) as carpetbaggers, they come into a community and they take money out of the local economy and put very little back into it, while also destroying the unique character and flavor of the community. and it's ugly.

Even if a local businessman opens an OC, he is going to be somewhat constricted by the corporate mandate of menu. They are also going to benefit from big budget advertising in endless repetitive loops: "come put your big american ass in our booth and we'll give you 5000 calories of bread before you even order! yay!" These ads show how little regard the corporate pitchmen have for us. our function is to consume and then, when have have consumed too much, we can take Lipitor! and yes, in a free nation we have every right to choose this soulless path, but Troll, your argument was i wrong to be disgusted by it, and wrong to blame "the people" for their choices having something to do with independent businesses failing.

Meanwhile, as in Fishy's scenario, a local restaurant has more freedom to buy local produce, offer seasonal menus and in general offer something unique and stimulating. These one of a kind establishments are the ultimate in american freedom because every decision that is made by the proprietor is free of a monolithic corporate overlord. But they havent survived. I am questioning a culture that does not see why supporting local is in everyones best interest . there is nothing more conserative than preserving local economies. the less centralization there is, the more freedom and choice there is for individuals. for every job that an OC or walmart offers....the absence of these chains offers greater opportunities for not just jobs, but individual life and spirit sustaining businesses that will develop to meet the community demand. i can, and do, blame "the people" for the short sightedness of not patronizing local businesses.

during the seattle summit, one of the highlights was when Boxer took me and shamy and moi to "Top Pot" a famous doughnut shop. It was a destination, we walked for what seemed miles with wild anticipation of the goodies at the end of the trail. This would not have happened if we were going to say, a dunkin donuts. we can get that anywhere. this was an event because the destination was unique to seattle. OC is not a destination -its always going to be there and so is therefore, not special. That is my problem: the non-specialness of "its always going to be there" and how that attitude is a blight on the american way of life and thought. It breeds indifference and taking abundance for granted which we can not afford at this juncture in history.

The fact that i find europe delightful because of the way each region has its own character based on the environment and/or history does not equal i think america should be like europe politically. but i do think they have some things right: that cheap goods and expediency do not trump authenticity. how is it that in 200 and some change years this nation is a collection of strip malls and jiffy lubes and yes, OC's while european cities have retained their local character for far longer? shouldnt we care about the quality of our experiences at least as much as how cheaply and quickly it can be delivered? because while we are on our way to making a pile of money, or whatever it is that defines american life, we have to fill our time with LIFE. how do you want to live it?

On to Wal-Mart. yes Wal-Mart offers low prices and that is helpful especially in this economy. but in the long run there is serious damage done to the communtiy; and im not even going to cite the fact that they keep the hours of employees under 40 to avoid health benefits while at the same time partnerning with the Center for American Progress to support a law that would legally obligate employers to pay for their employees' health insurance - small businesses that do have full time employees. or that they have bribed their way into to communties where they are not wanted.

my argument is this: once you allow the big box of cheap goods to run every alternative out of business because they cannot compete with the prices, then that big box is now your primary provider of goods. and then you have corporate tyranny. what did you trade for your cheap plastic from china, america? you traded away choice for a kind of serfdom -only the king in this case is a corporation. all that money spent in wal-mart? it leaves the community and goes to sam waltons familys vault. which is fine for them, they built the business. but when local businesses receive money for goods in their shops it is not going to be shipped out of the community, it is going to be spent with other businesses in that same community. The most conservative way of life is to stay as local as possible in business and commerce.

to sum it all up:

Wal-Mart: a single entity that provides for all your needs. what does that remind you of? and how has the acceptance of that arrangement primed the american psyche for exactly the situation we find ourselves in on a far larger scale?

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Blogger puerileuwaite said...

Right on! Screw Walmart! From now on only Target gets this Pug's business (and you KNOW how pugs do their business).

11:10 AM  
Blogger K9 said...

puerileuwaite: oh please. your wal-mat posts are legendary. didnt you find all your bitches shopping there? grhahahaha. i think you videotaped them - with your collar-cam.

11:59 AM  
Blogger Heff said...

Cool post, and I agree with it. But....I can't eat at O'Charley's anymore ?!?!?!?

12:21 PM  
Blogger K9 said...

heff: you can. you just have to understand that the fall of western civilization is your fault. enjoy the rolls!

12:26 PM  
Blogger moi said...

Right on. I have traveled this awesome country of ours far and wide and deep and every time I find a rockin' city whose interior has been revitalized into something interesting and unique, all I have to do to pop that bubble is drive about five miles to the fringes of the city, where I am assaulted by the same ol' same ol' strip upon strip of Chili's and Applebee's and Olive Gardens and Taco Bells and MacDonald's - all designed to soothe the Sheeple and keep them from feeling misplaced. It's all so ugly, it hurts.

1:00 PM  
Blogger Boxer said...

Those souless "Box Towns" leave me sad. I recently stopped to get water in one of them and realized I could be ANYWHERE. Washington? California? Who knew? Who cared? Rows and rows of logos and stores filled with crap. It's been a year since everything started to unravel, and I'm still NOT buying things. I've never been happier with what I have and how I spend my money..... because those that DO get it are (usually) other small businesses struggling to survive. Beautifully written K9.

(and jeez, for the last time... I REALLY REALLY thought Top Pot was closer to the sculpture garden!) bwahahahahahahah

1:02 PM  
Blogger kmwthay said...

Here is my problem with walmart: it's true their prices are better than anyone else. (at least around my area.) So, it's really hard to NOT to shop there if you're on a tight budget.

There is a super-center AND a neighborhood market within 1 mile from my house. Both stores are always packed. I can't imagine how much money they make in a day, but geeze.... It's a LOT!

Where are the freaking cashiers??? Seriously, Walmart - don't be so stingy with your money that you can't fill up the check out lines with cashier's and get people moving through the lines more efficently! And I KNOW Walmart can afford to pay their people better. Scheesh!@!@!

But - Walmart/Sam's happens to be the BIGGEST sponsor of my little NPO. They donate more money to us every year than the 2nd and 3rd donors combined. That is just the local stores. Walmart supports our NPO nationally, but the local stores raise the money. We get between 200k and 300k every year from fund raisers that the local stores put on.

It isn't Walmart's money that we're getting, it's money that is donated from the customers. Walmart covers all of the costs and supplies to put on the fundraisers and then donates what they raise.

It's hard for me to find much fault with them when I see first hand that they actually do give back to the community.

1:13 PM  
Blogger K9 said...

moi: at some point do we not have to examine what it is that defines us? sure we are all going to think of the true and real aspects of our american life. but it is crowded out by loud ads, flashing neon and people going from one plastic experience to another like fatted calfs on the ramp to slaughter. i mean, this is what we SEE around us. it has a negative effect.

(how dramatic! grrrrrrrrhrhehahahaha)

boxer: going lean does have it virtues doesnt it? i think there is something we have gained through the realization that too many people and the government are living way beyond their means.

yes i know you thought Top Pot was closer -grreherhahaha it just seemed far cause we were so anxious to get there.

kmwthay: here's walmart: we destroyed your main street, 100's of small businesses and the character of your community. now heres a pittance of good will from our massive cash coffers. now praise us!

just like "free" health care, its easy to be a do gooder when you have a never ending cash flow from people with fewer than ever options of where to spend, or no choice at all which is true of smaller towns. and like you said, basically what happened is they administrated what the people gave.

1:44 PM  
Blogger kmwthay said...

You're exactly right, K9. Exactly. It's a no win, really. The problem is that there is nothing that can make it change. No matter what, people will continue to shop there, Walmart will continue to build stores all over the world, and the small businesses won't have a prayer.

And as long as they keep the prices lower than anyone, I can't afford to shop anywhere else. It sucks, but it's a fact.

In other news, I saw this today:

The Senate Finance Committee has voted against creating a new government health insurance plan to compete with the private market.

Gerherhahahah! It didn't even make it out of committee to get to the Senate floor. I know a certain elected offical who is probably pouting in the corner.

1:56 PM  
Blogger foam said...

but .. i've never heard of this o'charley's! i'm culturally illiterate .. gasp!

i've never much liked wallie world. we used to have one of the smaller old timey walmarts, not a superstore. since we have many local quilters and crafters in the area, they had an amazing selection of anything a quilter or crafter might desire. i still felt it took away from downtown businesses though. but now with our new super walmart, anything that was geared to catering to local interests is gone.
it sucks. i absolutely loath the store now.

1:56 PM  
Blogger moi said...

Well, as I said over at Fishy's, it IS a Catch-22, isn't it? Genetically, we are a materialistic species. We EVOLVED to be clever and handy, therefore we make and build, therefore we buy and sell. I don't have a problem with that. That can in and of itself be a quality experience. There is joy in honestly working for and purchasing something well made that we need or desire for our homes, bodies, lives, and spirits. And there is joy in honestly producing quality goods and services.

The reasons why we have Wal-mart, et al is because big boxes and soul-less franchises are the quickest, most efficient way to wrest money from the billfold. You have to give the people a known quantity, something that doesn't intimidate or scare their non-adventurous brains.

But it doesn't have to be soul-less OR ugly. We have a new development here in section of uptown Albuquerque, an outdoor mall that features TONS of chain clothing and retail stores, but it's attractive and well built and is actually a very nice place to hang out. And Santa Fe has done an EXEMPLARY job (no doubt via a lot of lobbying at the state gooberment level) to keep the strip mall ugliness factor down to a minimum while at the same time welcoming chains.

As for redefining who we are, I'm not sure I know what that could possibly BE at this stage in our evolution. What are we if not materialistic? And I'm not being disingenuous when I ask that question. I'm actually open to knowing . . .

2:04 PM  
Blogger TROLL Y2K said...

A Rottie and a Troll meet on the street and the Rottie bears a toothy grin and says:

Drop your club and come to my yard where we will discuss aesthetics, culture, arts and Europe. Then you can defend fat Americans who take lipitor and prozak, never support local businesses, watch 8 hours of Hollyweird crap everyday, and shop exclusively at special Wal-Marts that somehow manage to give nothing back to the communities that they operate within.

But the Troll declines because Trolls only defend their friends and NONE of their friends fit that leftist-elitist-atlanticist stereo-type of ordinary hard-working Christian Conservatives. And the Troll doesn't believe that vision of Wal-Mart is a reality. And the troll doesn't know much about Europe's art, culture, aesthetics etx...

The Troll is fond of Polls so he asks the Rottie to conduct one:

Ask every non-leftist, non-freak they know where they rank Wal-Marts and McDonald's being rather ugly and having a TINY part in the demise of SOME local businesses in SOME places on their list of concerns?

My answer would be that a Wal-Mart being placed in an inappropriate part of Troll County where the Costs might outweigh the Benefits would be about NUMBER 500 on my list. And a Wal-Mart going up in Kokomo or Kalamazoo would be about NUMBER 99 Million on my list of concerns. I don't live in Kokomo. I believe strongly in Constitutional Governance and Federalism and I'm not an arrogant leftist who wants to tell the whole country what to do.

2:12 PM  
Blogger dr.alistair said...

i live in a town called waterdown which lies north of burlington a town of almost 200,000 along the shore of lake ontario.

i lived in waterdown 25 years ago when it was a very small town with it`s own police force and fire station.

recently waterdown has become part of hamilton, a large dying industrial town further west on the shore of lake ontario that is desperate for tax dollars and is slowly dining on the residential and school taxes of the affluent of our area.

as a way of meeting the need of the newly formed region of hamilton wentworth, developers are now building houses and a ghetto of wal-mart, big box renovation stores and banks, restaurants and coffee shops have emerged at the wast end of town.

this is beginning to have an effect on the old town. pretty soon shops will close and property values will drop while car traffic will quickly double.

this process is occuring in areas all across ontario, from guelph to peterborough to waterdown and beyond...and pretty soon all that will be left will be these commercial ghettos....

3:33 PM  
Blogger K9 said...

kmwthay: you are right. nothing can be done, or should be done. i am not saying "lets have no walmarts" i am saying be advised of the COST of walmarts -in every sense of the word.

on health care: its good news! on more than just health care -on making a stand.

foamy: your comment is EXACTLY what i am talking about. once it has taken over -it has no need to meet specific needs again! its the only game in town. this is particularly true of small town america.

moi: agreed and that is the point i tried to make at fishys. yes, hell, commerce makes the world go round. but we want a commerce that allows for more diversity in the types of offerings as well as the types of employment available. i just think some thought and consideration for the the greater good for the community as a whole is not anti-individual.

troll: i dont think there is anything elitist about examining a culture that is treated with such disregard by corporate food chains that they broadcast commercials pitching endless bowls of cheap food to the most obese population on the face of earth!

i dont think you really read my post. i wish you would read it again and pay attention to what i am saying. i didnt ask you to defend anything. this post is a REPLY to your comment to me at fishys, and its there for anybody to read.

i know troll county and it is very beautiful. i am certain you do not have to look at wal-mart or strips of box restaurants., nor do you roll with people who patronize these places exclusively. but lots of small town america does. meanwhile, the downtown died. and all the people who had shops downtown work at wal mart.

doctor: man i hate to hear that. and i believe you have correctly defined what will happen next. are you actually getting a wal-mart? or a canadian version?

4:01 PM  
Blogger boneman said...

I still wander in when I'm desperate, but, they must surely miss me by now.
I drive clean across town for movies from Fry's, get my paints and supplies from Lowes, and well...that's about it.
They do still have Breyer's Cherry Vanilla for $2.50 sometimes, and when I see it advertised, i walk straight in, get it, buy it, and leave.

4:38 PM  
Blogger TROLL Y2K said...

I did read it and liked it. Maybe a little too broad-in-scope for my Troll Brain. Let's focus on Wal-Mart and the FACTS.

I wasn't meaning YOU when I stated the undeniable truth that the leftist obsession about Wal-Mart is partly elitist. And mostly because Wal-Mart is effectively-managed, non-union, and the Walton Family are Christians and Patriots.

Show me a "Wal-Mart is Evil" study and I'll point out which Union or Lefty organization funded it and then I'll smash it's faulty methodology and outright lies into tiny little pieces.

Show me a "Wal-Mart is Evil" article where the quaint small New England town where life was Paradise and there were no existing Chain retailers is bullied and bribed into being destroyed by Wal-Mart and I'll smash that myth as well.

Show me a "Wal-Mart is Evil" article that claims the Company's growth strategy involved crushing tiny Mom-and-Pops and I'll point out that the numbers would make that strategy absurd to even attempt.

Yes, it's extremely elitist for San Francisco lefty freaks (where Wal-Mart doesn't operate) to presume to know what effect a Wal-Mart will have in Kokomo. A place they've never been, will never go, and lefties aren't smart enough to do a Cost/Benefits analysis in their own backyards regardless.

I do understand business and local government and I know how do a Cost/Benefits analysis. And you know what? There is ONE Wal-Mart on the Face-of-the-Earth that I feel fully qualified to examine it's impact. There are 3 in Troll County, by the way.

Let's examine the facts shall we?

Wal-Mart has had 3 stages of growth in it's SHORT span on this globe. None of them involved investing 11.5 million in order to take the 100K in revenue that sweet Uncle Ernie's Hardware Store raked in.

Stage One: Big ugly effectively-managed Wal-Marts against Big Ugly poorly-run K-Marts and regional K-martish Chains. THAT was the primary competition. UGLY versus UGLY. Locations were selected to compete with K-marts.

Stage Two: Bigger Ugly Wal-Marts versus Big Ugly poorly-run Sears-Type Stores in Big Ugly Malls. Ugly versus Ugly. Locations were selected to compete with Malls.

Stage Three: Bigger Ugly Wal-Marts versus Big Ugly Chain Supermarkets and Small Ugly Chain Gas Stations. Ugly versus ugly. Locations chosen to compete with Supermarkets.

All those chains existed before Wal-Mart and they all contributed to the death of Mom-and-Pops. Where's the obssessive hatred for them and the scornful condescending view of their customers?

Answer: Lefties hate Wal-Mart because they're run well, have kept unions out, and don't cave into ACORN style extortionists. Lefties don't give a damn about Mom and Pop.

Are there costs to the community-at-large when a Wal-Mart opens in Kokomo? Yes, and it's up to LOCALS to decide if those costs outweigh the benefits.

5:28 PM  
Blogger Boxer said...

My issue with Wal-Mart(and the rest) is the amount of crap they buy from China. It's poorly manufactured things, sold to the masses(and that includes the dog food I won't feed my dogs.) THAT'S the problem I have with any of the Box-like stores. I wonder what the buying power of Sears, Target and Wal-Mart alone could have done for THIS country. LONG before everyone began to outsource overseas. Do I blame them? Not really. We are a country that consumes first and asks how we're going to pay for it later.

6:12 PM  
Blogger Aunty Belle said...

Hoo-whee, this yard is rockin'!


Two small books ya can read both in one afternoon:


7:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i can't think
of a more selfless
christian act than shopping
at wal-mart to insure the continued
well being of a far away, hard working chinese family

rock on, kids

× × ×


7:57 PM  
Blogger TROLL Y2K said...

Hey, if you don't like Chinese products, don't buy them. I don't buy them, myself. At Wal-Mart. Or at Kohls. Or anywhere else.

If you join me, union and lefty run Kohl's (who have 14% more Chinese-made products in their stores) will go bankrupt. And don't let lefty Senator Herb Kohl sponsor a bail-out because Kohl's is "too big to fail".

That will take a lot of pressure off of Mom-And-Pops. And hey, let's give all those Mom-and-Pops a 10% across the board tax cut.

That's what y'all want right?
To give Mom-and-Pop a break and stop the proliferation of ugly discount stores.

Or is it really Wal-Mart and only Wal-Mart the left hates? For reasons other than having ugly stores.

It doesn't matter at ALL to the

8:47 PM  
Blogger Doom said...

If I remember righly as a child and into my youth, there were indeed local shops of every flavor, if restaurants were rather more of the greasy spoon variety (rural living did not lend much to dining culture). What was also true is those who ran those small stores just about stole money out of pockets as soon as one entered a store. As for giving back to the community, what, putting money in the bank was giving back?

As well, as I have posted on my blog, when I walk into those artistic local eateries, I always walk away with the feeling that I just put money in Castro's pocket or something. Beyond creepy, in times of lean, I will simply not support leftists, leftist causes, or choose to associate with their works. Artisan fine, socialist, communist, evniro whack, hell no. I hope, at least the ones I have visited, sink, hard, and never rise.

As for Wal-Mart, I do not go there to support my local area. I go their to support my town fool, or his wallet anyway. I am already giving and giving and giving. For a man who doesn't pay taxes, I am paying a lot of darned taxes! If they want more local help, they can sue me.

Besides, Wal-Mart and the rest are, even if they are completely vile and wrong as you contend, choices. Regardless of anything else you have tried to stipulate about what conservativism is, it IS choice first. I find you very off key in this.

Are we to tell people what to do, or let them decide? Period. I know where I stand, and sit, and buy.

1:11 AM  
Blogger boneman said...

Troll doesn't drive an American car?!
Are y'kidding me?
That's a hoot.
What, then? A horse and buggy?
(How many chinese made mini parts do you think are in your ford, chvy, dodge, whatever? Not a TV or computer anywhere in the world withou8t something made in Asia.
Then again, that ain't what you three are up about, is it?)
Far be it for me to get into it...I don't like Wallyworld for other reasons.
But, locally?
and you can take that to the bank.
The one right here some fifteen miles West of me that is serious terrible. Crap in the aisles, funky merchandise, no service.
When i was up seeing Jean, we went to one looking for a telephone charge cord. It was clean, neat, eat-off-the-floor organized and well kept.
There's your local. Wish those fellows in Lebanon took lessons from Defiance.

Why don't I like Wallyworld?
They didn't have the stupuid cord.
A big company just doesn't see us lil folks.
We found it at (and I don't know if they're connected by name or corporation) Walgreen's Drugstore across the street.

Too big to fail?
The bigger they are, the more guaranteed the fail...
Chevy? fail
hey they're changing/retooling as fast as they can BUT it may be too late.
Aptera. They make in one state, backlogged for their cars for months.
Kincaid? (wish he'de fail!)

At least, in my opinion, the bigger the monster, it really does seem like failure is in the stars.

(but I still likes me some Cherry Vanilla for $2.50 a carton)

5:20 AM  
Blogger boneman said...

actually, there is a bit of humor in that comment.

I was UP visiting Jean (A gal from Florida) in Northern Ohio!

5:28 AM  
Blogger Helene said...

I'm with Foam, I havent heard of OC's. That being said, the chains are everywhere... not just in the US, EVERYWHERE! I was in England recently and if you didnt account for the drivers on the wrong side of the road, you would have sworn you were somewhere in the US. Chilis, Starbucks, McD's and Subways! I hear they are even taking on the buffet idea! (that which they make suuuuch fun of us for having... too funny...)

As for Walmart, I dont know about their employee relations, but they do have the best prices. Survival of the fittest in my mind.

What has happened here in the burbs of Philly is that there are areas (mostly corporate park or industrial) where they have developed huge shopping/eating forums. They have a big draw and actually improved the area. I also see town centers trying to be reestablished. In King of Prussia for instance, there is a new Walmart, and right next to it they are building a 1000 unit housing project with restaurants and stores. A main square... lovely, but the school system cant support it... a conversation for another time...

I live in a little 'village' (it really is called a village too lol) its got a local movie theater that was restored about 12 yrs ago, about 10 restaurants and bars, lots of small shops and coffee houses. Charming...
There are chains here too! CVS,Bertuccis, Chilis and Costi are doing well,the local Taco Bell is going out of business... McD's in the next town over is doing well though.

I think there is room to coexist. I just it takes strong town planning and ordinances. That really is, in my opinion, the bottom line. (boy that was a long winded way of saying that!)

5:58 AM  
Blogger K9 said...

boney: cherry vanilla, huh?

troll: remember how this started. Fishy lamented the failures of small business in her community. and i am guessing from the sound of it that community isnt troll island big.

so i am actually talking about the proliferation of big box retailers -what that does to the landscape and variety of choices and job opportunities. i havent seen a Kmart in years, and know i know why.

i havent EVER said these places have no place. what i was defending was my comment that i wonder if people realize when they put the lowest price above all other considerations, what they lose in the process.

and then there is the uglification of the american landscape. it bothers me -and like moi was saying, it really doesnt have to be that way. wal mart has the money to make a far better and integrated structure than a big blue box plopped down on a vast wasteland of concrete.

since i live at least half my life in a rural southern town i have seen with my own eyes what happened when wal-mart opened its doors. it killed the little town. there was a bike shop that had all kinds of makes and models of bikes. then after walmart they closed. now you would go to walmart to buy a bike. and your choices are limited to whatever walmart has which is about 4 kinds of bikes. now you have a community where kids have the same bikes. doesnt homogenization bother you? or is cheap all that matters anymore?

i dont know what lefties think about mom and pops, but i love mom and pops. i was a mom and pop shop for two years. i closed -not cause of walmart but because the rent was raised too high. i am thinking of all the great people in the community who supported me because they thought having an offbeat little gallery was an asset to the community. that is what i am talking about LOCAL FLAVOR

aunty: i would have appreciated more than one word as no one is going to go read those books and return. your commentary on local commerce would have been most welcome. im sure Wendell Berry could come in here and make the case i have failed to do.

/t: as an artist, im sure you can appreciate why i would always be in favor of a unique community with local flavor and an aesthetically pleasing community. i am annoyed how often "cheap" is the first and often only consideration.

troll: i think a tax break for local owned businesses is a great idea. its like having a reduced tuition for in state college if you are a resident. and when you support local independent businesses you are supporting a more lively and diverse community.

doom: no. i am saying that when a walmart, especially in a small town moves in, smaller businesses cannot compete with their prices and often fail. then the consumer is left with less choice. eventually the big retailers becomes the sole provider and you can only buy whatever they decide you should have. does that sound like freedom to you?

leave politics out of this. this is about the character of the american landscape -local flavor and the goodness of preserving local economies. these are not leftist ideas -it is conservtivism at its highest order.

boney: did you lose weight? grrrrrrrherhahahaha

you remind me of something that i experienced recently. i needed a certain battery for my nikon cool pix. there are NO camera shops since walmart came to north georgia. there used to be one in downtown but not now. so i go to walmart. of course they dont have what i need -they have no interest in having a camera shop with more than a few choices -why should they? so i started looking...no camera shops within 70 miles of me. but 4 walmarts. this is what i am talking about

walmart=limited choice.

and it is UGLY.

6:02 AM  
Blogger K9 said...

hell-ene: thats a good point. i think it is different in a smaller community.

but this post is about much more than walmart. it is about sustaining local flavor and local economy. and also my disgust at the homogenization of the american landscape. after hearing about europe going the way of ugly too, ive decided i am moving to oaxaca.

6:06 AM  
Blogger Reverend X said...

OK, maybe I am, as usual, unclear on Trolly's absolutist political definitions...

"Lefties"... Could you define that using a non-pejorative description. By that I mean who you are referring to as a group based on a general similarity and not based on your arbitrary, myopic and inexperienced beliefs?

That would be great cuz I have been most everywhere and have yet to run into the caricatures you claim to have seen and or experienced...

I'll finish that thought in a moment...

I do not shop at Walmart. There aren't any in Portland. There are a few on the Suburban outskirts, but for the most part, PDX'ers do not, as a whole, like them.

Why? Well, there is a strong pro union attitude here, but i don't know anyone who avoids them for that reason. Everyone I know, pretty much abstains the Walmart "Savings" due to time constrictions. I don't have the time to check each and every item there for its recall status. Sure, the crap is cheap. That is because it is crap! Buying toxic consumer goods from a Leftist country with abysmal health regulations is not a good way to save money. I mean sure, give us universal health care for free and it would defray the medical costs associated with eating lead based snacks and using antifreeze flavored medicines and hygiene products, but at the moment, it is bad economic math. $1.00 snack + $10 copay = $11 jerky. Even 7-11 jerky is cheaper than that.

...back to Trolly bashing.

I posted a humble request to you at Bog's Blog. It is for your own good. Please consider it.

7:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


cheap is king /w me

yesterday i went shopping
for a baker's rolling pin, a clear glass mug for hot chocolate, a metal tray to hold a damp mop off the floor, and a cd/mp3 player for my garage/shop (wasn't actually looking for that last one, but found it and bought it anyway) -- got all of this cool loot at the salvation army and local thrift stores -- uber cheap -- and can you say, "NO TAXES!"

i hate wal-mart, but only partly because i'm an arrogant & hateful leftist obsessive not-smart lefty elitist atlanticist(?) condescending extortionist creepy socialist commie anti-choice freak, and mainly because i'm just uber cheap and won't pay wallie's higher-than-it's-worth prices

ugly is as ugly does


7:52 AM  
Blogger Boxer said...

I'm having a hard time believing that Troll truly does not buy anything manufactured in China. Do you have a TV? DVD player? Appliances? I bought a Levi belt yesterday, thinking "American" to only discover "Made in China" stamped on the back AFTER I got it home.

10:05 AM  
Blogger fishy said...

Wow! y'all have sure enough been stirring up the dust in the dogyard!.

This is one of my favorite aspects of blogging ....
unrestricted free speech from one end of our nation to the other.
I might emphasize the "free", because of course we can choose to blog or not. Er .... unless of course your computer isn't working and the local computer guru got run out of town by the big box geek squad we'll see you in a month folks.

Okay, well go on down to the Library and use their computer. Too bad! The Library hours are reduced due to budget cuts and we are so sorry :-)
Now , if you want to exercise your free choice to blog, too bad! Because you see, choice is over.

Conform is in.

Options are being narrowed to the most common denominators. This successfully eliminates many opportunities to exercise choice.

The Anytown, USA homogenization is the result of sooo many things. Let's just say what happened was Americans lost their ability to anticipate cause and effect.

In my community "effect" has certainly announced it's presence.
Sadly, I think more negative "effect" is on it's way. Not just here, but nationwide. I grieve for what is being lost. Certainly all of the things K9 identified. Mostly for me, the example in my community is a windsock announcing the loss of choice.

I do NOT believe what has transpired here is leftist or elitist or acornist or artsy or conspired. What I indeed DO think is this: to borrow Moi's word, "sheeple" ceased being individuals.

In part the loss of what was once admired around the planet as,
"American ingenuity"
or the
" rugged American individualist" or the freedom to pursue a life of one's own choosing, also known as "The American Dream"
is dwindling.

Rapidly. As in warp speed.

My take on this lies directly in the power and greed based symbiosis of
Big Business - Big Government. Government has been the primary facilitator of the big business "shock and awe" campaign on small business.

Small business is swimming upstream to it's death.
Not just the death of choice, but the death of the pursuit of individualism. The isn't happening to Anytown, USA main throughfares.

It is happening to the American psyche.

10:15 AM  
Blogger Mermaid said...

My waters are a confussion of small town charm with the overlay of big town chains. On every corner there's a starbucks to drink your 500 calories of coffee for $10, a cvs to provide you with heart meds for $10, an indian run gas station that sells pipes (not the tabacco kind) for $10, and the other corner almost always has a local buisness. We have local home theater and appliance stores that out sell best buy, wal mart, hh gregg, and target. My town of 250,000+ boasts 2 targets, @ least 6 wal marts, 3 wal mart grocery stores, and 1 k mart.... i shop at none of them.

Our downtown still has tailors and boutiques that sell more clothing and often at a better price than macys, dillards, or God forbid khols. We have an honest to God cobbler downtown that will fix your favorite pair of shoes for $20or less. There's a midget downtown that's an honest leather worker that makes, belts, bags, shoes and more for a decent price and they're all a work of art. There's another 2 leather workers in this town that do equally good work and will custom make anything you ask for without you ever having to flip through a catalog or browse a department store for "designer" labels. There are real coffee houses with poetry nights and live bands alongside a really great game of chess. We have more local diners than chains, and the locals are winning the economic battle against the chains. In fact we have a local steak house that's on the top ten national best steak house list. Longhorn closed down bc they couldn't compete.

My downtown is alive with "mom and pop" places that will never give in. Furthermore my over grown southern town refuses to be bought and the chains can bug out.

In recent years 2 full malls have closed down... nobody wants their crap. A large, primarily chain based development has been growing and prospering, but only bc it's out by the interstate where only those who don't understand the culture of my town live. Even the chain diners out there have been failing bc the local guys have closed in, paid for the outrageous land leases to be in that part of town, and pushed the chains out. Cheers for the little man!

There are cultured parts of our nation that refuse to be metropolized, homogonized, or obamanized and i'm proud to say i live in one!

10:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...




each other

makes it easier.
for when i do it
you all rally round
that bonny flag
and defend

so well done
little dog-person
for crapping in some local yards

all rather phoenix like.


(ps trip to KL/borneo postponed one week so be grateful I chose "anon"!!!!!!)

11:25 AM  
Blogger dr.alistair said...

once the transformation is complete, the prices will go up.

12:17 PM  
Blogger Doom said...


Fair enough, as it goes. Though I still debate local flavor as not what some say it is. Local favor, I contend, is often simply local protectionism. And much of the culture, say that of 'local' cuisine, is often just other outsiders coming in (where I have lived). If the owners do live in the neighborhood, I also contend that they do not necessarily add to their neighborhoods.

I think the notion of local left a long time ago and I am not sure I agree that it was as beneficial as you are presenting it. Colloquial has it's charms, but it's costs as well. I am happy to agree to disagree though. Much of it, in my opinion, kept the rich in place and the poor in their place too. In many of those places, no matter what I might happen to do, I will be "one of those, the poor kids".

I used to buy only Chevy or Ford, but after recent understandings, from unions to foreign parts and work to quality, I went to Nissan. It is tough to support local when local doesn't support me, quality, or such.

But, fair enough if you still want it. I have some of my own lines drawn in the sand that I'll stick to, regardless... for now. Ackh!

12:34 PM  
Blogger Gnomeself Be True said...

I eat at local joints because that's where the good food is. If TGI Friday's did a soul food platter as good as Lolo's Chicken and Waffles does, I'd go to the one around the corner.
Seems unlikely though that corporate food mills will ever put out food to match LoLo's.
I'm ambiguous on WalMart. I tend not to shop there, but I'd never figure it was my place to speak against them. I don't want governments deciding for other people what is good and bad in the free market. So,I think I'll personally leave those decisions to the consumer as well.

12:39 PM  
Blogger Mayden' s Voyage said...

The Wal-Mart closest to me closed down due to riff-raff thugs who were doing major and routine shoplifting. In order to go to Wal-Mart I feel safe in I have to drive 30 minutes south, or northwest. I pretty much avoid it all together.
However, with that being said, my Kroger is a chain store, and so is Food Lion,and so is Harris Teeter. I wonder if that's any different? It's also where most of my money goes. I have a personal mechanic though and hair stylist- and avoid Jiffy Lube and Great Clips with a passion.

I love China, but try hard not to buy anything with a "made in china" lable on the back- the money does not go into the tiny hands of the little ones who are sewing, painting, or assembling the goods :( we know where the money goes- 'nough said there.

As for local establishments which give a "flavor" to my fair city- blech- I can't say I'm terribly interested in that either. I do enjoy the Durham Bulls, and some places like Hog Heaven or Ole NC BBQ who have been here for ages. However, the next most authentic places to eat in this town are the locally established Mexican places. They were Not original to this area.

If I go to the local thrift store- I'm going to find ghetto clothes with the words "Bling" stitched in across the fanny. Not for me. The ONLY dress shop I've ever been to in my life was where I bought my wedding gown, off the rack, 21 years ago.

Wal-Mart will be it's own demise if it becomes over-run (as ours did) with people who are not just looking for low prices- but rather socially created-freeloaders who've had a great deal handed to them and aren't bothered by their own sticky fingers.

The root of evil is the LOVE of money. Perhaps the root of ugly is Wal-mart? I don't know, but as with most things in history there are cycles- and I think the era of Wal-mart will fade as more and more people find value in things that are authentic and locally made/produced.

I know I'll never buy another dish or mug, or bit of pottery made outside of the US- and probably not beyond the borders of the southeast. My love of such things was always there, but definitely stoked by a freind in Ga :)

hugs :)

1:30 PM  
Blogger K9 said...

revvy: thats a good point i hadnt even gotten to the part about all the bad schizz in chinese products. last year somebody gave me a christmas basket with all this perfume and bath oils and lotions and stuff....made in china. i was thinking -wait - didnt they just poison all their kids with melamine milk? and send deadly cough syrup to latin america and im going to slather this on my skin? dont think so.

i think i am going to do an experiment which is to go price a few items at walmart and then at the independent pharmacy in copperhill tennessee -very mom and pop -and do a price comparison. i will report back.

/t: you know since i started buying clothes at goodwill when i go into a regular store i freak out at the prices. the difference between goodwill and walmart is at goodwill i can find really quality stuff for way cheaper than new horrible stuff. and i dont even live on the atlantic! ;-)

boxer: levis? the jean company? oh no. you know they used to have a "plant" or whatever it is called here in chickory town? no you cant avoid chinese goods....but i think troll would agree that part of the reason that is is because business taxes force business overseas. i think tax incentives to hire americans and manufacture in america would be a great idea. seems obvious.

fishy: i too love this aspect of blogging. i bout fell out of my chair when i read what troll wrote to me on your site...and thought -well i need an entire post to rebut that and looks like lots of people have very definite ideas on this topic. good!

i think you have written what i wish i had. its perfect. and the arrangement between big biz and big gov is a conspiracy -there! i sad it - against the little guy. monsanto and archer daniel midland are great examples of why smaller farms fail. bastids!

even though we are saying this situation is about less choice, i keep reading in the comments that anti walmart (or big box) is anti choice. is the opposite. thanks so much for weighing in!

mermaid: listen to your siren call of the good fight! lucky you mermaid -your ocean is full of smart schools of fish -that chose wisely. thanks so much for that spark of light!

ardliar! youre right, if you come over here and say anything bad about 'merica it really will be a dogfight. i would hope we'd close ranks on you, even as we disagree. you know how it goes: i can trash talk my family but if you do it? youre goin down, hater! grrherhahaha.

i wondered if you werent swept away on a big wave or something.

doctor: thats right. and then they have also preselected for you what you will have in the way of goods. but like some of the commenters say "its their choice" and that is certainly true.

doom: interesting. where have you drawn a line in the sand? and we can disagree. i still adore ya.

gnome: pragmatic gnome. when you come to the ATL i will take you over to deacon burtons. you'll get fried chicken, 2 sides, a mason jar of iced tea and a slice of pie just shy of 8 dollars.

i leave the decisions to the consumer as well. i am saying: hope it was worth is sukka! grrrrrrhahahaha

mayden! hey hey! you just described the walmart near my moms assisted living home. its just horrible - it may be the dirtiest walmart ive ever seen and thats where they take the residents on their little bus to shop.

point taken on the chain grocery. food lion is dutch. at chickory i shop ingles (all american) and the IGA (independent grocers of america) mostly cause the IGA stocks local produce and they can because they are privately owned and can make that decision!

but since i started going to the farmers market i get most everything there that is real food. now that winters coming -it will be hard to go local. but my dad will ship up some citrus and i got on the waiting list for an american heritage turkey for thanksgiving.

you know, somebody wrote something to me on chickorys blog today that really stuck with me and it was "change how you do business and YOUR world will change" and that is where i am going to leave it. big love to you.

6:04 PM  
Blogger Aunty Belle said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

9:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Most salient point made:

doesnt homogenization bother you? or is cheap all that matters anymore?

9:26 PM  
Blogger the walking man said...

The last music I bought was The Concert for Bangladesh and couple of Ravi Shankur discs from a store that sells used CD's. These were new and I paid for them as such. No Target, Wal-Mart carried them.

I drive two Honda's, one a 94 and the other a 96 both bought used, one from a private owner and one from a local dealer of a small independent lot.

If I need some hardware I go to a locally owned hardware (even if it is an affiliate of ACO or whatever) because I don't have to buy in a bubble pack I can get what I need and no more.

I have taken as much of my wealth out of the stock market as I could without penalty and it now sits liquid getting a couple of hundred bucks a month in interest.

I do not spend money if it is not necessary and I do not owe anyone a god damn recurring payment. and never will again. My house is my own and if I need another i will not buy one until I can pay cash for it.

I do turn off lights and electronics when not in use, not only turn them off but switch them so they are not still drawing power. I recycle laundry water to flush the toilet with using a home made system that cost about $100.
My total utility bill including water is always less than two hundred dollars.

When we do go out to eat we do not normally go to a chain anything but to a locally owned diner of one stripe or another and leave a better than average tip for the person earning less than average wages.

If I need something from a box store or a chain I first ask myself where the profit goes and second do I really need it. If it passes both tests I will spend the money if not...Fuck 'em I don't need it that bad.

3:43 AM  
Blogger moi said...

Gnome's point is a good one. Anyone EAT at an Olive Garden, Chiles, etc. lately? Yuck. At least fast food places are honest about the fact that they're serving fast food, cheaply made, and they have a purpose. But the chains posing as bona fide restaurants just makes me giggle.

7:07 AM  
Blogger dr.alistair said...

it`s funny, we are encouraged to "recycle" what we think is garbage so that a large corporation can be more profitable in thier reclamation business, yet we insist on new cars, new homes and new clothes.

i just bought a new chrysler pacifica (in fact i pick it up tonight) i by high-end clothes at value village (sort of like goodwill) and i live in a "used" house in that i`m the third owner.

my friend`s daughter is an environmental scientist (whatever the hell that is) and her dream is to build her own "efficient" home. i asked why she couldn`t recycle one that was already built and she went into a trance driven by the fact that she was suddenly caught in her own hypocracy...that of what she feels is good for others,and that which props up her career in this new and exciting field.

she also wouldn`t be caught dead in a used clothing store or driving a used car.

as a friend of mine said in a lecture "as long as people buy things, the economy will be strong". i presume he meant new things....

10:07 AM  
Blogger TROLL Y2K said...

I'm declaring myself winner of the dog fight. Metaphorically, I played it safe and kicked a field goal. Whereas you, dear K9, tried a double-reverse hook-and-lateral pass and went for broke.

And almost almost almost pulled it off.

Good game! Always willing to grant a rematch on some other topic.

1:05 PM  
Blogger K9 said...

anon: well when you put it like that, i see i have typed far too much. i agree. economy of words is always welcome.

walking man: i am right there with you. its been a while since i saved for something as i am now. im rediscovering the joys of working towards the goal. i found some great salvage pieces today for the shed: 2 windows and a really heavy door. nice door.
goal: build shed; no debt.

moi: have you noticed the advertising lately? taco bell: 4th meal. yes america, you really need to pack on meat and cheese calories at 11pm. olive garden: endless soup bread and salad. sounds innocent enough er,,bring on the blue cheese! grrherhahaha

doctor: well there is another economy too. the cash economy. i am having fun finding materials to build a shed. on saturday i am going to an auction...lets see what i can find. also i heard through the grapevine that ace hardware had bundles of lumber with little flaws and stuff for 50 bucks...gotta go look at that. the point being -its kind of fun searching out alternatives to the shiny new whatever.

okay trolly. you can declare yourself the winner of the dogfight. and i declare myself the magnificent rotty of the americas! good game buddy!


3:54 PM  
Blogger Big Shamu said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8:00 PM  
Blogger Big Shamu said...

Daaaamun. Nice conversation folks.

Boxer, it WAS that far. Recheck the
the map.

I'm with Moi and K9, local food joints tend to have better food because it's just them. If they don't make their customers happy, there aren't ten thousand other cookie cutter restaurants to take up the slack. The locals live and die by making their customers happy. That's why I chose to eat at local places.

8:04 PM  
Blogger dr.alistair said...

my favorite restaurant is at my place.

7:06 AM  
Blogger Karl said...

Good afternoon K9,

A little bit of background, I used to spend a lot of time on the road. Most of it in this country, but not all. Nor am I the average consumer I don’t have an I-anything, I haven’t watched commercial television since the mid eighties and in the last ten years I have been a mall less than five times.
OK that said.

During my travels, I’ve experienced many mom and pop operations some very good, some not so good and some that actually make you sick. Without local knowledge there’s no way to tell, what is good or what is bad. From a traveler’s point of view I can understand how these chain restaurants can take over. If you’ll notice many of them are around travel centers. Not that the food is good, it’s consistent and you know what you’re going to get. At home I do not frequent chain restaurants (I have local knowledge). When on the road, to one it’s a chain or it’s the grocery store.

When working out side of the country and planning your return, we would refer to it as going back to the great supermarket.

Is Wal-Mart a bad corporation? No, they provide the consumer with the product consumer wants. That the consumer desires and is willing to accept cheap junk is the problem. I once worked in the town where the locals were very happy that a Wal-Mart had opened up, because it acted as the catalyst for the revitalization of their downtown. Old stagnant businesses went out and newer more vibrant establishment’s move in.

Well there’s my 2¢ worth, sorry it took me so long to drop it into the jukebox.

9:45 AM  
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10:09 AM  
Blogger K9 said...

shamy: i looked at the map! grrrrrrherhahahahahaha!
wow/ what was that doughnut i loved? chocolate sandcastle. i dont think they have that at dunkin do they? no -when you are an independent shop you can do that...and you can only get them at Top Pot.

doctor: i say the same thing all the time -especially up at chickory. there are a lot of really good restaurants in ATL. but eating out is expensive. and, the big dog is a superlative chef so i happy to eat at home.

karl: you know, i know thats true. if you dont know the local scene then it makes sense. i travel to and from central florida to north georgia all the time. and i hate i-75. so i always go these back ways. i have discovered some amazing places to stop: in tifton georgia a catfish camp; a soul food kitchen outside of brunswick; the orange house in citra; a 100 year old restaurant in macon and so forth. but thats me -and i have projected my point of view in this discussion. i have the time and the inclination to seek these things out.

"the great supermarket" thats great. thanks for stopping by Karl. your 2 cents are always welcome

7:28 PM  
Blogger Reverend X said...

Yo K9,

I got a treat for ya over at APA . Enjoy. You've been a good doggy! lol

6:39 AM  
Blogger Ricardo said...

Obama is anti small business? All of Washington is anti small business. that includes presidents before and after him regardless of political affiliation. Big businesses have lobbyist, money and power. that buys and pays for lots of Democrats and republicans to slant the playing field in favor of the big fish and let them coast and get bailed out and exploit and on and on.

And while not directing this at you, why do so many on the right see Europe and Canada as evil places? Have they been there? I'm not saying we should do things their way but I just never grasped the hatred.

And I hate Wal-MMart but I have little choice. Every alternative has been chased out of town.

China. Isn't it amazing that a communist country will soon clean our clocks in the playing field of capitalism by using capitalism as their offense? Strange world.

10:16 PM  
Blogger Ricardo said...

Helene - Survival of the fittest? Have you seen some of the people at wal-mart? It's a propagator of pestilence. Along with the fit and surviving, so do germs and viruses.

10:21 PM  
Blogger Aunty Belle said...

Dr. Alist is RIGHT on on hypocritical recyclers. Heh.

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