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Going back 20 years ago, one can trace how consumers got led to the slaughterhouse by corporations and subliminally trained to hate local small business owners.
I do not use the word "hate" lightly.
Some of the blame can be attached to consumer thirst for materialism fueled by the ease of technology.
Some of the majority of blame can be linked to envy and jealousy.
Consumers did not intend to look down on business owners because business owners decided to take risks to control of their destinies. As a caveat to my last sentence, small business owners are not totally guilt-free in driving consumers to spend their monies with big corporations.
Twenty years ago, I recall here in California that many people had small businesses. Going back about ten years earlier, when I left the military, I did not know much about civilian life and what others did to make money other than a job. Occasionally, I would start conversations with people and ask them, "what do you do for a living?". They would respond with every occupation from owning a flower shop, a small restaurant, a clothing boutique, etc.
This was the period of time before mega corporation dotcoms, Walmart, and definitely Amazon.
During the dotcom boom, I recall many friends were saying dotcoms would shutdown small business owners. Specifically, in Roseville California, a suburb community in metro Sacramento, a mega mall opened. And dotcom lovers bragged about how stupid it was to open a 200-acre mega mall. I will never forget the day the Galleria Mall opened. Cars were lined up on Interstate 80 from Davis California to Roseville, a 30 mile distance, to go shop at the Galleria!
Name-brand materialism drives consumer interest in shopping. Women love to carry bags with Chanel, Gucci, Victoria Secret and other popular names. Guys like to wear shirts identifying the cars they drive like BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Ford, Chevy, and Tesla.
You put your car key on the counter when shopping and the clerk says you drive a BMW. So, companies legitimately know what you like and how you like to feel when shopping.
I remember as an 18 year old in South Florida that I loved going to the mall so I can buy something from the Merry-Go-Round, a hip clothing store for party people. I purchased my first "Member's Only" light jacket in Miami. I felt special in that jacket. I did not care where the jacket was made. It could have been Brazil, Panama or Mexico. I did not care.
Regarding when consumers became envious and jealous of local business owners, I trace the date to around 2004 when the real estate market was artificially booming, especially in areas like California, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Miami, New York, and Seattle.
Most people know what subsequently happened four years later...that's right the 2008-2009 real estate and mortgage crises. Millions of people's homes went into foreclosure because they could not afford to pay the mortgage. Shortly thereafter, millions of people lost their jobs because the stock market crashed due to the real estate market crash. This is when consumers began to hate small business owners.
The best way to describe consumer hate toward local small business owners is when consumers did not like when real estate agents and loan officers made so much money selling homes and loans. And I must add the federal government as a villain, too. The federal government authorized loan officers to offer high-risk loans to the public, but consumers did not understand the federal government's role...so consumers blamed the crises on real estate agents and loan officers.
In California, Real estate agents and loan officers used to make $15,000 to $35,000 per month selling real estate and originating loans. To real estate agents and loan officers defense, no one forced to consumers to buy homes they could not afford or to take $200,000 cash-out refinance loans to buy boats, add swimming pools or take lavish vacations.
But in the eyes of consumers, small business owners got rich and consumers lost their jobs and homes.
Business owners who made a lot of money were not just real estate agents and loans officers. Every local business owner did well during the real estate boom. And consumers remembered that they had to go to work for 8-9-10 hours per day to bring home $1,200 every two weeks to see small business owners bringing home $6,000 every two weeks. The envy and jealousy were building over time.
After the damaging financial and mental effects of the real estate bust were beginning to dissipate, consumers developed a bad taste in their mouths about local business owners. They saw that it was the local business owner who screwed them over and not the big corporation.
In a way, consumers would rather see the big corporations get their monies instead of local business owners. Big corporations like Walmart offered lower prices and, most importantly, consumers no longer contributed to a local business owner 'getting rich'.
Consumers were literally saying, "Fuck you, local business owners". Or, consumers were thinking, "go get a 9-5 job like me and live like I live". "No more living a life of luxury for you any longer", consumers were literally saying.
As a small business owner myself during this time, I would hear these words from people. It felt like consumers were saying "they did not want any local small business owner to succeed from their spending".
Consumers began to shift spending from the local business owner to big box corporations like Walmart, Sam's Club, etc. Some big corporations did suffer during this transition. KMart fell to Target. Dollar-Tree swooped in to grab consumer purchases such as toiletry items to like toothpaste they could sell for $1. Best Buy ran local computer and electronic stores out of business like Circuit City and Radio Shack.
There was a point in time around 2010 when corporations saw the opening to make a full assault on the consumer. I am not sure if corporations linked their campaigns to limit consumer shopping to politics but it sure feels that way.
Walmart began building supermarkets with grocery items along with offering their original store items. Amazon went public. And during the Obama years, many blue-collar jobs were lost to China and Mexico. Combine political and economic events, like Covid-19, and you get situations where Americans are now forced to shop with fewer options.
Yes, the man who just lost his manufacturing job in Ohio can only afford to shop at WalMart. The hair stylist who used to make $800 per week and now, shutdown, can find affordable items through Amazon. She does not want to spend $30 with a local business owner when she find a similar product at Amazon, often made in China, for $17. China wins and the American small business owners lose.
This trickling down of shopping for discounts also hurts other business owners like dentists, CPAs, attorneys, plastic surgeons, chiropractors, insurance agents, auto repair shops, nail shops, etc. Every consumer is now trained to shop for the lowest price.
Shopping for the lowest prices favors Walmart and Amazon because these two companies can ALWAYS lower their prices to keep local business owners shutdown.
The point I am making is discounting prices is a weapon used by big corporations against local small business owners. Big corporations can lower prices for months until the local business owner is forced to close the doors. Then, big corporations can gradually increase their prices to previous higher levels.
To further destroy America, big corporations can accept money from foreign sources dedicated to harming to small business owners and keeping Americans in poverty. Just recently, a company everyone is familiar with allegedly received $600M from a foreign country. How much lower can a big corporation lower its prices to defeat local businesses with a $600M cash infusion?
The best way for Americans to end their addiction to extreme discount schemes destroying America is to start shopping with local business owners again. Yes, you may pay $7 more for the item, but over time, local business owners can grow and begin to stabilize their prices.
Start shopping with men and women who are local product and service distributors and business owners. Eat at local restaurants instead of the big-name franchises. Try your best to find a dentist who is not part of a mega dental corporation. When you need a mortgage loan, select a local broker instead of the big corporate mortgage companies. If you have a health challenge, seek naturopathic medicine solutions and visit chiropractors.
This article was difficult to write. It will be easier to communicate this information on our podcast. This topic is complex with many economic and political themes. I tried to paint a picture of why things are like they are today.
Make it a great day.
Rick, Founder, Real People USA