Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Keeping it elitist; Moscow group works to conceal anti-Wal-Mart agenda under guise of supporting local business

Very reminiscent of PARD's recent stillborn "Buy Local" campaign (I wonder if Deirdre and Jason Rogers consider patronizing national chain ShopKo as "buying local" and rejecting the "CEO-driven economy?"), No SuperWalMart loudmouth Bill London has started a "Buy Local Moscow" group. I'm very surpised the Greater Moscow Alliance is having anything to do with this. From yesterday's Moscow-Pullman Daily News.
Keeping it local,Business group works to promote local business, development in Moscow

A group of 25 businesses in Moscow are banding together to help each other thrive and survive.

Members of the group Buy Local Moscow, which began in 2006, will support each other by working to promote local business and encourage economic development in the community.

"When people buy, we want them to be thinking about buying in Moscow and when you buy from local, independent businesses, all dollars recirculate into the community," said Bill London, who owns a freelance writing business and is a member of the group.

Buy Local Moscow is now ready to announce its presence in the community. It will do that through a forum addressing economic stability through buying locally. The forum will be sponsored by the Moscow Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Moscow Alliance and the Moscow Civic Association.

London said the group is using the event as a "big recruitment vehicle" and it will give people a chance to join and find out more about the group.

Stu Scott, a Buy Local Moscow member, Chamber of Commerce board member and owner of Camas Prairie Winery, will talk about the group at the forum.

"As a member of the chamber, I am interested in anything that promotes business in Moscow," Scott said.

"Buy Local Moscow came into existence for the same reason that the MCA and GMA came into existence; there was a need for it in the community. There is not a total overlap with the chamber and a group like Buy Local Moscow is more focused on one section of the business community."

He said the group hopes to promote and enhance the public's awareness of local business.

"It's significant both economically and culturally," he said. "Small business is the heart and soul of the community."

The group has created a Web site, www.buylocalmoscow.com, with contact information about participating businesses and the organization.

Buy Local Moscow doesn't have regular meetings or officers, only meetings when there is a particular issue that needs to be discussed. Scott hopes it will stay that way.

He is excited to have both the GMA and MCA participating in the forum.

The GMA promotes free enterprise and property rights and the MCA works for progressive and sustainable communities.

"We are much more interested in being unifiers than dividers," Scott said, adding that people often become divided on a single issue even though "there is a tremendous amount of overlap in the objectives and desires of all organizations."

Gerard Connelly, owner of Tri-State, was asked to join the group shortly after it began.

"I'm one who would obviously believe in the benefits of buying local and am interested in any group that would promote that," he said.

He said the Moscow Chamber of Commerce has had a campaign during the Christmas season to encourage people to shop locally, but Buy Local Moscow was specifically focused on local business.

"It's a benefit to the entire community to shop locally," Connelly said.

"There are a large number of people who think about the implications of where they spend their money; I think this will make people even more aware of the implications."

Chamber of Commerce Director Darrell Keim said the group is able to be a little more specialized than the chamber.

"The chamber is there for all business," he said. "The benefit (of Buy Local Moscow) is that local citizens are excited about it and excitement can spread about local businesses."

Keim and Connelly both will participate in the forum.

London said local business is vital to Moscow's character.

"It's what makes us so unique," he said. "These are the things that make Moscow work; it's in everyone's interest to support independent businesses."

London said possible future activities for the group include a holiday-buying kick-off party, a raffle, silent auction, a paper brochure and possibly a sign or plaque.
Bill London is a businessman with a "freelance writing business?" Give me a break. Bill's day job, you guessed it, is Communications Coordinator in the University Relations Department at WSU.

This is just another chapter from Crazy Al Norman's anti-Wal-Mart playbook: "Present an alternative."

Of course, small business is the heart of any community. But it is a false dilemma to claim that a town can only have chain stores or independent businesses. They can and do co-exist. Look what's happening here in Pullman. Crimson Village, Duane Brelsford's N. Grand Ave. retail complex, Ace Hardware, and the proposed new Pullman Building Supply superstore are all direct spinoffs from the anticipated traffic from a Wal-Mart Supercenter proposed for Bishop Blvd.

I wonder who has attracted more shoopers to Moscow? New national chains Old Navy and Bed, Bath and Beyond or Bill London's freelance writing?

It is also a lie to claim that money from local stores circulates more in the community than from chain stores. The key principle of economics and finance is that money is fungible; regardless of its origins or intended use, all money is the same. In essence, all businesses are local, in that local people work there and shop there. Wages paid by chain stores are no different than local stores. All businesses on the Palouse, both local and chain, have to pay for the goods they sell and have to pay taxes. All that is left is profit. And there is no more guarantee that a local business will reinvest its profit back into the community than a chain store would. As Kathryn Meier recently discovered, until we have a retail business that makes everything it sells locally, then there is no such thing as a retail business that circulates more money locally than another.

These concepts are all just liberal myths. They have absolutely no connection with economic facts or reality. The left will say or do anything to get their way, no matter how contradictory. For example, they claim that we have a "regional economy" and that we need to "cooperate on retail development" and not be in "competition" with each other. Then we see a group like this.

And God bless good old Gerard Connelly. The only thing we know that he's against for sure is people shopping in Pullman.

So I guess we are to assume that being a "local" business washes away a multitiude of sins. For example, we hear how "ugly" big box stores are, but has anyone taken a look at Tri-State? That store is not going to win any architectural awards.

Selling products made in developing countries? I sure saw a bunch of "Made in China," "Made in Vietnam," and "Made in Philippines" labels in Tri-State.

Does Tri-State pay its employees the Moscow "living wage" of at least $10 an hour? I doubt it.

But Tri-State is "local" and donates money to area charities (so does the Moscow Wal-Mart.) But it doesn't matter. It's all about the semantics, not the facts.

There is a display in Tri-State advertising "Greenicci" t-shirts. They are 55% hemp and 45% cotton. The words scream "Organic," "Sustainable," and "Good for you and good for the Earth." But a closer look reveals the very small words on the label: "Made in China." Does anyone even know realize "sustainable" is really supposed to mean? Want to guess the carbon emissions involved in manufacturing and shipping those shirts from China to Moscow or the hourly wage and benefits of the workers who made them?


Nic said...

so, why is it elitist to want to support local businesses?

Mattwi said...

Tri-State is overpriced, they sell the same stuff as everyone else, the difference is the label.

I rarely buy anything at all there, I did use the coupon book to get a "Brick" of US made .22LR and a couple LED flashlights.

However, when it comes to bulk ammo purchases, I buy online...

April E. Coggins said...

Isn't Tri-State part of that out-of-town, corporate chain of stores known as Ace Hardware? Oops.

Mattwi said...

While it is nice to have ACE in Pullman, gives some competition, though not much to the "Do It" Center, I still do my major building supply shopping at Home Depot...

Paul E. Zimmerman, M.A. said...

Mattwi -

Can you recommend any particular sites for ammo purchases? My roommate went shopping for some 7.62x39 there for the festivities this weekend and came away from the experience less than happy with the price he paid.

April E. Coggins said...

Paul: Don't bother trying to shop locally. Moscow has now let us know that any business outside of Moscow is not local and since there is no place within Whitman County that sells ammo, you may as well buy it on-line.

Paul E. Zimmerman, M.A. said...

April: "...there is no place within Whitman County that sells ammo..."

None at all?! Yikes!

April E. Coggins said...

If there is a place, please let me know. I will be happy to drive across the vast of Whitman County to support them.

Nic said...

April, wouldn't that be elitist?

Satanic Mechanic said...

I'll give you some 7.62 for some of the weekend activities if you do not find any. I use to order the ammo online from Wolf Ammo but a co-worker here buys bulk and I would tack on my order to his for a discount. Sometimes you can buy bulk ammo at some of the gun shows.
I know two places in Colfax that sells ammo but they do not have a lot of it - Ace Hardware and Colfax Grange.

Mattwi said...


Current prices from multiple online dealers.

My last purchase was from Wideners. I purchased 500 rounds of Barnaul .223 for my Saiga, ammo delivered was $122. Not great, but not bad either.

BTW, a Saiga is a PC Kalashnikov AK-101 series rifle.


Paul E. Zimmerman, M.A. said...

Mr. Mechanic -

I've got plenty of 7.62 for my SKS, and my roommate has enough (now, after the TriState fiasco) for his AK. Thanks though!

Mattwi -

Thanks! I'll check those out. I don't use up too much ammo from one season to the next, but my newly hunter safety certified roommate and I do plan on doing lots of bird hunting this season. Maybe I'll need bulk shipments of 12 gauge shells. :)

Scotty said...

I should tell you about my experience in Tri-State... If you see me this weekend ask me about it.

Darrell said...

A little grist for the conversation mill.

Figures shown by a UI economist at the Buy Local kickoff show (I'm approximating, I don't recall the precise figure) that $1 spent at a locally owned and operated store puts about $1.25 into the economy. That same dollar spent at a local chain store puts $1.15 into the local economy.

As the economist pointed out-both are excellent investments in the local economy. What really needs to be fought is retail leakage out of the area. And, what needs to be encouraged is bringing in people to shop from outside the area (ala tourism, etc). Or, bringing in nonretail businesses that create wealth (Such as manufacturing, tech, etc), rather then recirculating the money that is already here.

If you really want to hear more, the kickoff was recorded and can be heard at the KRFP/Radio Free Moscow website.

Have a great day!
Darrell Keim
Executive Director
Moscow Chamber of Commerce