A Different Way to Do Business
This particular clipping is from Orion magazine, Nov/Dec 2004 (yes, I am a bit behind). It's titled The Morning After and I just realized that it is by Bill McKibben, a leader in the sustainable ecomony movement and author of Deep Economy. Since I am going to have the privilege of hearing him speak later this week at a conference that I am attending, I decided to share this article here.
I'm sorry that I can't find the article online because I would like for you to have the opportunity to read the entire thing, but I'll do my best to give you a summary here.
This story is about a small community, Powell, Wyoming, that is bucking the big-box trend with a downtown clothing store. Powell Mercantile is a small store with racks of inexpensive clothes. What's different about Powell Mercantile? For one thing it is actually making money competing against the big chains.
It works because it is community owned. Five hundred people each invested between $500 and $1,000. They were told "to consider it more of a donation to the community, not a great investment."
It works because it's nothing fancy. It's carries what the residents of Powell want to wear. Jeans and shirts much like they would purchase at Wal-Mart. It works because the costs are strictly controlled.
And, mostly it works because "people looked around and decided that they wanted more than "always low prices"--they wanted neighbors, a downtown, a community that worked. They couldn't afford to pay gobs more than they would at Wal-Mart, but they also couldn't afford to watch their town slowly crater. So they did something about it."
You can read more about Bill McKibben and sustainable economies at his website http://www.billmckibben.com/index.html