Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Attack of the big-boxes

Today's issue of City Pages has an eye-opening story with an author formerly of St. Paul who wrote a book about the perils of corporate consolidation in the retail world.

The most shocking information is that in just 15 years, consumer spending at the top ten big-box retailers (think Home Depot, Wal-Mart, Target...) has more than doubled to land at a total amount of nearly one-third of all consumer spending. Think about that for a moment, of all the pointless shit you buy, 33% of the money spent is at some flourescent-lit big-box shithole. Instead of walking to your local hardware store to buy a box of nails you hop in the Chevy Tahoe and tool across town to what was a corn field six years ago and wander through aisle upon aisle of Home Depot searching for a one-pound box on 16 penny finishing nails where employees in orange smocks wander around and ofer no knowledgeable help. But your saved twenty cents so you can justify this waste of precious time.

Thank God I don't do this all the time. Plus I'm a Menard's guy who frequents his neighborhood hardware store. They see me walk in and ask waht I need. I like that. Sure, I grew up on a farm but someone knowing specifically where a stainless steel hose clamp is will save me time. Then I walk back home, yes, all the way back to my house a staggering three blocks away.

I am not perfect though. I buy damn near everythign else with the exception of clothes at Target. Yes, even the bulk of my groceries come from Super Target. And anything I can get that is generic, I buy it because it is cheaper. I can justify that because most of our grocery items (minus fruits and vegetables) are still produced in the U.S.A. and the Target-brand goods at least give me the illusion of being local as Target is still Minneapolis-based.

There you have it, I am no better than most. I try my best to avoid the overseas crap because the quality sucks. Except for automobiles, stodgy and backwards-thinking Detroit can shove it because their products are not in tune with America. Can't wait to get my hands on a Volkswagen when the time comes.

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