My CNN Money column this week was prompted by Michael Shuman’s new book, The Small-Mart Revolution, which is about small companies that are joining forces to challenge big business, with the help of consumers, community groups and national nonprofits like BALLE. I thoroughly enjoyed the book. Shuman is a smart guy whose politics can’t be pigeonholed. He has worked in the trenches, helping to promote local community development in Maine and western New York.
I’d love to visit Bellingham, Washington, where a local network called Sustainable Connections is thriving. Here’s picture of their Harvest Dinner, where hundreds of townspeople get together to enjoy all-local, fresh food. (Click on it and you’ll see everyone eating apples!) Food and energy are two industries that could be dramatically “localized,” Shuman says.
Nevertheless, I’m not persuaded by Shuman’s argument that small businesses are always, or almost always, better for the world than chain stores or big companies. I am, for example, writing this post from a Starbucks in Washington, D.C. Good coffee, good Internet connection, good employer, good practices in buying coffee beans from the global south.
Of course, I couldn’t agree more with Shuman’s broader point–that we should use our power as consumers, workers and investors to change business for the better. You can read the column here.