Now that oodles of people are rushing to Walmart’s website and stores to purchase The Pioneer Woman’s new kitchen line (you can see what I received from PW on the link), I think we should balance it out with my small business roots and perspective. There was a comment on my blog post about The Pioneer Woman’s Collection at Walmart and the person said she likes the dishes but wishes they were available elsewhere as she tries “to not patronize Walmart.”
Choosing where you shop is a choice to think about and have awareness in the choices. Launching a popular line of dishes in a big-box store is smart distribution and marketing to me, giving it price points and accessibility to items for the majority instead of the minority of people. Limiting accessibility would be to launch in a kitchen store chain that can only be found in higher end city malls and never in my rural area and state. Also, I support brands, people and communities I believe in and want to put my dollars towards. I will go to Walmart for Pioneer Woman dishes I cannot buy anywhere else, but I won’t be buying milk there, or anything else I can buy first in my small town.
Why do I limit my big-box store shopping and spending?
I’m the daughter of small business owners. I married into a family who owns a lumberyard and construction business and I started my own speaking and consulting business a couple of years ago. I’m passionate about supporting small independent businesses. Add a small town into the equation and you’ll find those businesses are the backbone of our communities. For the most part, if you have strong small businesses in the community, people are eager to support. If those businesses lack support, they disappear—and so does the vitality of the community.
There are times when those of us who live in a small town have to venture to a bigger town or city. While there, it’s easy to stop at a big-box store to purchase necessities. Big-box stores offer one-stop shopping convenience and often lower prices. I can drive 100 miles to a big-box store and purchase everything I need for our family—clothes, shoes, toiletries, laundry detergent, groceries and the most popular beverage in our home, milk.
On average, I purchase five gallons of milk a week. Is milk from a big-box store cheaper? I don’t know. I haven’t compared.
One time, while grabbing my five gallons of milk out of the cooler at our only local grocery store, an older woman said, “Wow! You should buy your milk at Walmart!” I assume she was referring to the price difference. I smiled and said, “I don’t have time to drive 200 miles round-trip to buy milk. Plus if I don’t buy milk here, someday it might not be here.”
From my house, I can see the only dairy farm left in our area. The milk truck stops by the dairy every day, and I know that milk goes into the jugs of milk I buy at our local grocery store. The same can’t be said when buying from a big-box store. Short of owning my own milk cow, which I have no interest in doing, milk is the most local product I can buy from my grocery store. I love dairy farmers, milk truck drivers, distributors and small-town grocery stores that have milk on the shelf when I need it on a weekly basis.
If I, as a small-town business owner, don’t support other local businesses, will others want to support our second-generation family owned lumberyard and building business? No. If my husband and I don’t have our dental, vision or basic medical services taken care of in our small town, will they still be offered someday when we’re old? If we choose not to purchase our vehicles, appliances, prescriptions, groceries, or insurance, why would others come to us for their house or ag building projects?
If everyone drives past the small independent businesses, they will disappear. When businesses disappear, families don’t choose to set roots in small-town America. Those who are left living in small towns drive farther for goods and services.
It starts with the little purchases, such as milk, to sustain small business. I do as much business as I can locally with the hope others are doing the same. I choose to support our small-town business owners first because they sustain my family.