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The Small-Mart Revolution: How Local Businesses Are Beating the Global Competition Hardcover – June 19, 2006

4.6 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Shuman begins his book about the "local-first" movement by describing his annual trip to Wal-Mart to purchase a sturdy yet inexpensive pair of sneakers; he concludes it with a visit to his physical therapist, who tells him those same sneakers have exacerbated his chronic back pain. These two anecdotes provide context for Shuman's thesis: locally owned businesses are more beneficial to their communities than massive chains like Wal-Mart. The author (Going Local: Creating Self-Reliant Communities in a Global Age) outlines strategies that small and home-based businesses-and, by extension, consumers, investors and policymakers-can follow to compete against the world's largest companies; his strategies hinge on going local, though some ideas are more credible than others (readers are advised to shop at locally owned businesses and do business with local banks, but to forego credit cards, as "nearly all credit card processing is nonlocal"). Shuman writes in a surprisingly lively and occasionally self-deprecating style uncommon to business texts, and his research is backed with hundreds of source notes. Though Shuman has his moments of naïve idealism, his "don't get mad, get even" ideology will resonate with forward-thinking consumers and small business owners.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From the Publisher

Praise from the Publisher

"This is a badly needed book."
--Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature

"The Small-Mart Revolution reveals why supporting small business makes good economic sense and how they offer the only real long-term solution for the health of our neighborhoods and our nation. It will touch your heart, while showing you how to better mind your wallet."
--Dr. Nancy Snyderman, Vice President for Consumer Education, Johnson & Johnson, and Associate Professor of Head and Neck Surgery, University of Pennsylvania

"There are precious few good alternatives to the `Wal-Martization' of our communities. The Small-Mart Revolution not only provides an alternative analysis, it tells us how we can make it happen."
--Robert Greenwald, director of the documentary "Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price"

"The Small-Mart Revolution is an essential resource for every local business owner, government official, and public interest citizen advocate. Michael Shuman makes a convincing case that the future belongs to the small and local. This is an authoritative, practical, and highly readable handbook on rebuilding local economies as an alternative to corporate-led economic globalization by the leading guru of local economic development."
--David C. Korten, author of When Corporations Rule the World and The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community

"The Small-Mart Revolution provides the most important blueprint for economic development I've ever seen. It shows how communities can prosper by putting local constituents and businesses first. The book should be required reading for local elected officials and civil servants across America."
--Larry Agran, Mayor of Irvine, California (2000-2004)

"Some of us have embraced globalization without worrying overmuch about the consequences. Others of us are fighting pointless battles against progress, technology, and capitalism. Here, Michael Shuman presents a badly needed Third Way. He says that by strengthening our local businesses and communities we'll be creating a better capitalism and a better world. And he backs it up with logic, examples, statistics, and passion! This is the kind of book that could launch a whole new social-political movement."
--Mark Satin, author of Radical Middle: The Politics We Need Now

"Michael Shuman has done it again. He shows the power of grassroots economics--not as mere theory about a future world--but as real people, today, creating an equitable economy from the grassroots up. This book will revolutionize your thinking about "development." Do yourself and all of us a favor by reading it and then acting on it."
-- Kevin Danaher, Co-Director, Global Exchange

"The world is about to become a larger place again. Globalism is toast. Caught up in raptures of credit-fueled discount shopping, few Americans realize how profoundly our society is about to change. We are sleepwalking into a permanent global energy crisis that will compel us to live much more locally than we have for generations. We face a desperate need to reconstruct local networks of economic relations--and we should have begun this great task yesterday. This is an invaluable guide to how we might accomplish this."
--James Howard Kunstler, author of The Long Emergency

"As global markets explode, Michael Shuman offers a compelling alternative for growth towards a healthier civil society. Anyone interested in the consequences of globalization dominated by multinationals should read this book."
--Michele Barry, Professor of Medicine and Global Health, Yale University

"Going Local became my economic development bible. Small Mart Revolution is Shuman's new testament to America's progress toward genuine economic stability. Good words leading us to good jobs."
--Paul Glover, Founder, Ithaca Hours

"Shuman takes on the single-factor analysts who argue that the future lies in outsourcing our lives by showing how locally based businesses and economies are a happier, healthier solution for all. In the end, it's not how far our dollars travel that matters but how well and often they multiply near where they are earned and spent. Shuman shows how to stop local economies from being drained through the avaricious pipelines of globalization and be turned instead into deep wells serving their own communities."
--Sam Smith, Editor, Progressive Review

"Following in the footsteps of E.F. Schumacher and Jane Jacobs, who elegantly described the `why' of local and regional economies, Michael Shuman's new book provides the much needed `how'--with compelling examples from around the world."
--Susan Witt, Executive Director, E.F. Schumacher Society

"This powerfully argued book explains how small, innovative, and locally-oriented economies can undermine the power of globalized mega-companies like WalMart, building healthier, wealthier, and happier local communities in the process. Even if you don't agree with all his economic arguments, his many examples of creative communities that have taken charge of their own economic, social, and cultural futures cry out for wide replication."
--John McClaughry, formerly Senior Policy Advisor in the Reagan White House and President, The Ethan Allen Institute

"Get out of the big-box; get into your community and its economy! Shuman shows why a vibrant local economy is important, how to make it happen, and how doing so could help each of us. He offers sound analysis, and a style that emphasizes action. This book is addressed to consumers, entrepreneurs, and policy makers, and its message could not be more timely."
--Christopher Gunn, author of Third Sector Development

"Our actions as consumers, investors, and policymakers have put us in bondage to a global economy that jeopardizes the future well-being of our communities and ourselves. Shuman offers a compelling alternative vision of a more robust, more sustainable economy built around independent, locally-owned organizations. Anyone who desires to live in a free and prosperous future must read and take to heart the message in The Small-Mart Revolution."
--H. Thomas Johnson, Professor of Business Administration, Portland State University

"This is a terrific book. Fast-moving, full of facts and fresh analysis, a bundle of real things you can do to rebuild your own community. A practical tour-de-force. Bravo!"
--Gar Alperovitz, Lionel Re. Bauman Professor of Political Economy, University of Maryland, and author of America Beyond Capitalism --This text refers to the Paperback edition.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 285 pages
  • Publisher: Berrett-Koehler Publishers (June 19, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1576753867
  • ISBN-13: 978-1576753866
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,163,676 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Steven Krulick on November 29, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I'm a village trustee in rural upstate NY. For twenty years I've been trying to get our village and surrounding town to create a joint economic development office to help retain and expand, and create or lure businesses within our community. Conventional economic thinking has created a race to the bottom, with every community in a zero-sum battle to cajole or bribe outside manufacturers or retailers to locate THERE, resulting in a bidding war small depressed villages like ours simply can't win.

Now, our neighboring hamlet is being considered for a Wal-Mart Supercenter and there are those who think this is wonderful: glowing talk of jobs, convenient shopping, increased traffic for other businesses. My gut feeling, and plenty of research, has convinced me this was not going to be the case, and, like other small communities who had to deal with this possibility, I was concerned that this would decimate our existing local businesses, increase our costs for services, medical care, public assistance, etc., but was hard pressed to explain why this was the wrong way to go, or what we could do as a superior alternative.

I'm also a board member of Sustainable Hudson Valley, and the director got me a copy of Shuman's book and I devoured it in time to write a column for the local paper,do a radio interview, and present my proposals to a joint village/town board on just what a truly 21st century Development Office should focus on.

Shuman's book has neatly articulated and crystalized the thoughts and concepts I've been trying to put forth for years, and has backed them up with the facts and stats that will make it easier to overcome the "There is no alternative" thinking prevalent among economic development agencies and local officials.
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Format: Hardcover
We need a word of mouth "revolution". Because let's face it the mainstream media will ignore books like this. This is a great follow-up to Michael's first book Going Local. Yes "buy local" has become a bit trendy, but you won't find any elitism here. This is an argument for self-reliant communities with all of the positive traits that go with that: diversity, culture, civic values. It is not an argument for banning corporations (just corporate subsidies). The message is that small business can compete. The whole concept of specialized economies is bunk and Shuman clearly makes his case. The niche economies favored by neo-liberal economists are incredibly vulnerable to the slightest disruption. If the factory owner decides to move ovewrseas the whole town is decimated. This book is a recipe for success and everyone has a role to play. Public officials, investors, consumers, planners and entrepreneurs all need to get on board.
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Format: Hardcover
Michael Shuman with Small-Mart has done a great service for all of us who care about maintaining/growing local communities. I usually glaze over as friends argue back and forth about national and global economic strategies but the author has brought economic development home in ways I can understand and act upon. With LOIS (local ownership and import-substitution) and TINA (There Is No Alternative to the Wal-Marting of America) and self-effacing humor, he goes beyond bashing "big box" retail stores and makes a strong case for supporting independent businesses in all sectors. As someone who has long worked in support of local rural health care, I know that communities will respond when offered good local options. But I have seen, as argued by Small-Mart, LOIS cannot win over TINA "unless we as consumers, investors, and policymakers fundamentally change" the choices we make. This book is a must read for those who care about living and working in strong local communities, rural or urban.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a small business advisor, I bought this book expecting to learn tips about differentiation, and strategies for beating the big box retailers. Instead it is more of a diatribe against current economic development practice and shopping at the big box stores, especially Wal-Mart. While I agree with some of his assessments, the book left me as an average citizen and consumer feeling powerless and resigned to seeing my tax dollars wasted on corporate welfare. This should be required reading for anyone in economic development or public policy, but is not really written for the average business owner, unless you are interested in starting a career as an advocate for change.
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Format: Hardcover
Shuman's book sets out in blunt terms the high costs of driving out of your way to save a little money at a big-box store. His main point is that many small businesses assume it's impossible to compete with Wal-Mart, Target, Home Depot, etc. Shuman shows that's not the case. He also shows that maximizing long distance import/export is a lousy way to develop an economy, both for the country doing the importing and the country doing the exporting. I can't recommend this book highly enough to anyone who is concerned with building a healthy economy in their neighborhood--no matter where in the world your neighborhood is.

Shuman does miss a few points. He discusses the subsidies enjoyed by the automobile in our society, but he says little about the role free parking plays in this. The fact is that providing free parking costs the U.S. economy hundreds of billions of dollars every year. Much of this comes from well-meaning local regulations requiring businesses and residences to provide certain numbers of parking spaces. Since parking lots cost money to build and maintain, this amounts to subsidizing automobiles over other forms of transportation. Parking lots also use up precious land that could be better used for other things, and spread out communities so that it's difficult to walk anywhere. Free parking also increases housing costs enormously; it's one of the main reasons housing is so expensive in the U.S. For more on this, see Donald Shoup's book "The High Cost of Free Parking."

Shuman also doesn't say enough on the role of population relative to local resources. No amount of re-localization of the economy can bring prosperity if a region's human population is too high.
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