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The Small-Mart Revolution: How Local Businesses Are Beating the Global Competition (BK Currents (Paperback)) Paperback – Bargain Price, August 1, 2007
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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. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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
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Top Customer Reviews
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. He shows the inherent and hidden shortcomings and costs involved in pursuing outside "white knights" or letting outside 800-pound gorillas dictate and control a community's economic destiny, and counters with a more sensible and long-term strategy to grow the "living economies" locally, with increased local production, ownership, and financing.
Shuman was at our county seat today to give a presentation based on the book, so I was able to convince some others from my community to come and hear what he had to say, and get a copy of the book; about 40 local officials, businesspersons, chamber of commerce heads, planners, and other necessary components of a comprehensive nucleus to spread this "gospel" came from two counties, and I hope to get more villagers to get copies of this book when I show a film on "Independent America" next week, which covers some of the same ground as the book, so complements it well.
I have just started reading his earlier book, "Going Local," and I plan to make them both essential reading for any local officials who will be involved in creating the new Development Office, because he lays out a template for what such an entity SHOULD be focussing on, and I wouldn't want such an office to get mired in old-style, zero-sum thinking when here is a way that we won't have to compete with neighboring communities at all... with each community growing its economy from WITHIN that community, there is no competition, no race to the bottom! Indeed, we could then network at the regional level to fill in gaps, learn from each other, expand each market area in sectors where one community has developed production unique to itself, or work together to create regional businesses that simply require larger scale or greater demographics to work.
I hope to get Shuman down directly to our village and town so he can fire up the Gloomy Gus types who are still thinking inside the literal "big box" and show them that there is a better way, and to use his book as the bible of how to rethink and reframe the approach to building better and stronger local economies.
Earlier works by others have certainly established the underlying principles and philosophical basis for this school of thought, but Shuman's book takes advantage of the practical examples and studies since then to prove the validity of the earlier thinking, and brings it right up to date. And for those in or expecting to have to battle with a big box, here's plenty of good ammunition to use to counter the wishful thinking or outright hype that gets many to roll over and surrender to the "inevitable." I now feel armed and ready!
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. For example, Shuman discusses the benefits of localization of the economy in producing a living wage for workers. This is true to a certain extent, but keep in mind that wages are fundamentally determined by the number of people looking for work. No community can provide a living wage for long if it accepts an infinite number of immigrants.
I am more skeptical than Shuman on the possibility of long-term economic growth. Before taking what he says on this as gospel, I would suggest reading some contrary opinions, as in Bill McKibben's book "Deep Economy."
Overall, though, "The Small-Mart Revolution" is great. Don't miss it.
I think this is a great read for the business owner who is just beginning to delve into social, economic and environmental responsibility. The book seems to foster "an accomplishing things through others," mentality. And with that comes learning from others in business, especially those outside of one's own industry.