Do Not Honor Mom and Pop

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James Hanley

James Hanley is a two-bit college professor who'd rather be canoeing.

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84 Responses

  1. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    This makes sense and I’ve never understood the idealization of mom and pop. Larger retail establishments with more complicated and elaborate hierarchies are able to pay better because they make more money through sales than mom and pops, and are thus able to pay higher wages, and offer more opportunties to advance into higher paid positions in the higher hierarchy. My problems with Walmart aren’t because they destroy mom and pop stores. Its with their labor practices in general, which seem very exploitative. There is simply no reason for any store to engage in such practices whether it be a mom or pop or a Walmart like store. At the very least, working conditions should be safe even if the wages are not high. Many Walmart workers seem to agree. Costco is evidence that you can run a Walmart like establishment with less exploitative practices.Report

    • Avatar Jim Heffman says:

      “I’ve never understood the idealization of mom and pop.”

      “mom-and-pop”, presumably, live down the street from you and go to the same church and you see them at the grocery store, and so, in theory, they are more responsive to the community’s preferences, and I’m sure I could get a few more commas in this sentence, but I think I’ve hit the limit.

      Anyway, it’s about a personal relationship with the business owner, versus the business owner being somebody who lives and works on the other side of the country on the top floor of a giant building you’re not allowed into. If I think Joe’s Paperbacks should carry more seventies sci-fi and fewer media tie-ins, I can go ask Joe about it. If I think Barnes And Noble should do that, I can…put a card in the suggestion box (aka “reserve toilet paper supply”).Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        There is this but in big cities forming a personal relationship with a small store owner is less likely than in more intimate locations.Report

      • @jim-heffman

        I’m in no way into romanticizing the mom-and-pop stores, but I’ll add to your point another one: a dollar spent at a locally-owned business is more likely to stay in the locality in which that business is found than a dollar spent at, say, the A&P.Report

      • Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

        @gabriel-conroy

        I’m skeptical that the “keeping more money in the community” effect is all that significant. First, it’s pretty typical that $1 spent at a mom and pop is not $1 spent at a big box. It’s more like $0.85 spent at a big box, so that’s $0.15 or so that stays in the community right there.

        Second, most of the money you spend at a store goes into expenses and not profit. Both types of stores pay locals to work there. Both sides of stores spend a large share of every dollar on vendors and shipping operators that are likely out of the neighborhood in either case. The only real difference between the two in where the money goes is when the owners get paid, and that number is pennies on the dollar.Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog says:

        There’s a small independent grocery store a block from our house – mostly pop works there, occasionally mom, son, and nephew, as well as half a dozen or so non-family employees.

        When our daughter was born, the grocers gave us a present. When we went to Brazil, we brought back a present for them (the family is Brazilian) A few times one of us has forgotten our wallet, and they’ve printed a receipt, taped it to the till with our name on it, and let us pay next time we were in. You can’t do that at Safeway…Report

      • @troublesome-frog

        That’s a very good point. I do wonder how significant it is. I imagine the significance increases as the density of mom-and-pop’s per, say, population per square mile increases.

        However, I don’t really disagree with you. I’m not inclined to idealized mom-and-pops in any case.Report

    • Avatar Dave says:

      @leeesq

      Costco is evidence that you can run a Walmart like establishment with less exploitative practices.

      Only Costco is not a WalMart. In several ways, it’s not even close.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        (And even if it were, or were close, Costco’s success may be the product of finding a niche rather than something reproducible by competitors.)Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Will,
        oh, that’s pretty rich. Costco is the second largest food purveyor in the country, behind walmart isn’t it?

        “Niche” really?Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Costco’s customer base is high-income. They may do a lot of business, but their model depends on that, which makes the model less-than-reproducible in my view. Beyond that, though, I was thinking of their place in the employment marketplace more than in the goods marketplace.

        If an employer pays more than its competitors, it gets the advantage of getting the best employees. The more that is replicated, the less successful that model is.

        (I suppose the question here is whether Costco’s HR success is due to:

        (a) Higher wages making the employees better or
        (b) Higher wages attracting better employees.

        I’m betting it’s a little bit of both, but more (b) than (a).Report

      • Avatar Dave says:

        @kim

        Yes, niche. They specialize in bulk sales which gives them a way to generate volume business but also requires far fewer people in any given store. Have you ever been in a WalMart when the store employees are out re-stocking the shelves?

        You can find yourself in a Costco ten times over and not count as many employees on the floor as you will late at night in a Wal-Mart when people are tediously re-stocking and re-facing thousands of different items. With Costco, all it takes is a forklift and a little bit of rearranging.

        Operating a WalMart will require substantially more labor given the sheer number of products on the sales floor.

        Furthermore, what Costco has that WalMart does not (although Sam’s does (I think)), is the ability to generate revenues without a single sale hitting the register – through it’s membership fees. That can help subsidize the prices (that and I’m sure Costco is as much a pain in the ass as WalMart is to its suppliers).Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Dave,
        Costco’s buyers seem to be more about “finding good deals” and “buy the whole farm’s crop” (TJ’s model, if you will) rather than Walmart’s “here’s our price point.”

        Still strict, but in a different fashion.

        /still can’t get Costco to carry cornmeal. *mutters*Report

      • Avatar Dave says:

        Ok so it is niche.Report

      • Avatar scott the mediocre says:

        that and I’m sure Costco is as much a pain in the ass as WalMart is to its suppliers.

        My previous employer was a supplier to both (of infrastructure devices, not products that Costco/Walmart sold to their customers), and for those purposes, Costco was not in the least as much a pain. Walmart was an enormous PITA, but being also, unsurprisingly, our largest customer, we put up with it. n.b. of our big customers, who were companies you might expect like Walmart, Target, Home Depot, Carrefour, etc., Walmart were probably the largest pains in the absolute sense but the worst pain/sales ratio was definitely Tesco.
        Report

      • Avatar Dave says:

        @scott-the-mediocre

        That’s interesting. With respect to product offerings, I’ve heard other things but I could be wrong. I’ve heard BJ’s, a competitor of Costco, can be pretty rough too.Report

  2. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    My above comment isn’t meant to mean that there shouldn’t be small, unique stores. Small, unique stores have a roll in the modern economy but its mainly to provide goods which there isn’t necessary a lot of demand for like gourmet groceries, high end clothing, or nerd culture related goods. Small stores should deal with relatively unique and somewhat expensive goods. Goods that come with a lot of demand like ordinary groceries and clothing, consumer electronics, tools, etc. are best handled by large retail operations.Report

  3. Avatar veronica d says:

    The counter is that, while the Mom and Pop may not have paid as much, and surely that matters, but that the Mom and the Pop are people too and they owned a business, and thus were invested in their community in a way that Walmart just is not. So the story of big-box retails is small business owners landing hard, and trading their relative social status for soul-crushing mcjobs.

    I worked at a Mom and Pop, specifically a gas station, all through my teenage years and into adulthood. I even moonlighted there after I got started in Tech. It was nice. My boss knew my parents. Everyone around town knew him. My brother had worked there.

    The pay was meh, but the sense of community mattered.

    =================

    It is difficult to quantify everything. When you insist on doing so, and are monomaniacal about it, you lose important insights.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq says:

      This is way to sentimental for my tastes. Small time employers are still employers and are capable of being just as exploitative and bad as big employers. Its not very difficult to find examples of this. Just because you found working at a mom and pop, an intimate experience does not mean that other people do. We simply can’t guarantee businesspeople success in the same way we can provide various safeguards for employees without a great deal of corruption or legislation that will make everybody worse off like India’s License Raj.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew says:

        @leeesq

        Who’s talking about guaranteeing the success of mom and pop operations? I don’t take Veronica to be saying that we should protect mom & pops from Big Boxes. I don’t even take her to be saying that if Big Boxes Etc. end up paying better and being better employers than mom & pops, that on net the displacement of mom & pops isn’t okay or even good. I just take her to be making a very non-sentimental point: that there is nevertheless *a* tradeoff, or some tradeoffs, that at least matter enough to be mentioned if big chains are broadly driving mom & pops out of existence. Among them, long-term investment in the community & familiarity among consumers, sellers, and workers are tradeoffs she mentions; I’d add that if big box/large chains do indeed drive out mom & pops, some degree of diversity of shopping experiences – just choices in where to shop – can be lost for consumers. It’s not sentimental to note that people value these things; if value is subjective it’s no more sentimental to value these things than it is to dismiss them entirely and to care only about price and selection.Report

      • Avatar veronica d says:

        @leeesq — I think folks are kinda missing a big part of my point: For small business, a significant portion of their “workforce” are owners, like the direct, actual people who own the business. For the big-boxes, the owners are either distant rich people or an amorphous cloud of “stockholders” — about which, there is nothing wrong with stockholders per se (I’m one), but it isn’t the same. What happens to the class of small business owners? They become “associate managers” for a big box?Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        v,
        Bob Evans gave people stock options (and profit sharing to boot), so most managers were still part-owners.Report

      • Avatar veronica d says:

        @kim — That’s nice, but not the same thing as being a business owner in your community.

        (Plus, stock options are not stock, but that’s a separate conversation.)Report

    • Avatar Dave says:

      The counter is that, while the Mom and Pop may not have paid as much, and surely that matters, but that the Mom and the Pop are people too and they owned a business, and thus were invested in their community in a way that Walmart just is not. So the story of big-box retails is small business owners landing hard, and trading their relative social status for soul-crushing mcjobs.

      The same can be said for online retailers like Amazon.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Not around here. Amazon’s heading into fairywood, and not taking away jobs at all. In fact, they’re taking over some sort of dilapidated furniture warehouse, that would otherwise simply fall apart.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Arguably, Amazon facilitates small businesses through its marketplace in a way that Walmart doesn’t, or at least to a greater degree than Walmart does.Report

      • Avatar Dave says:

        @kim

        Are they opening a distribution facility there?Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Dave,
        yeah. our mayor’s been busy.Report

      • Avatar Dave says:

        @will-truman

        I did overlook that. There are a lot of small retailers that sell their products through Amazon. I remember buying a couple of books that weren’t directly offered by Amazon but through registered sellers.Report

      • Avatar Dave says:

        In some ways, I’d argue that Amazon poses a greater threat to big box retailers than to the mom-and-pops, at least the mom-and-pops that are left standing and are operating in markets where there is a sizable presence of big box retailers.

        In my part of NJ, you can reach the downtown areas of my town and several neighboring towns before the amount of time it takes to hit the Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Target, etc. and getting to the big box stores requires venturing into high volume traffic areas, something people don’t care to do (especially given the crazy drivers).

        Also, because of the layout of the various communities and the locations of the major thoroughfares (where big box retailers choose to be), the big box retailers either can’t or won’t build too close to the downtown areas (mostly can’t).

        Then there’s the whole idea of walkability, boutiques, convenience, etc. not unlike urban neighborhoods.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Dave,
        Yeah. Walmart wants to steal Costco’s business model, and Costco wants to steal Amazon’s.
        Demographic changes are turning walmart’s business model into last year’s fashion.Report

    • Avatar Murali says:

      But I’m going to bet that unless the community you were born in was atypical, if you had been out of the closet at that point in your life, none of the mom and pop stores would have been nice. The dark side of community is that they treat people who are different badly and community standards can be narrow and arbitrary.Report

  4. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    I will also go with Lee’s comments. What mom and pops are probably good for is long-term employment. There is a clothing store in SF that I like and frequent. It is owned by a brother and sister team and most of their employees seem long term and those that aren’t are given flexible schedules to go around their schooling.

    They mainly seem to get buy on a cadre of loyal costumers and I am potentially one of them (I’m a dedicated follower of fashion!)

    There is also something aesthetic and local about local stores that is good. I generally have a much more enjoyable experience browsing in Ameoba Music, Green Apple Books, the Strand, Aardvark Books, Kim’s Video (when it was around) than I ever did in Tower or Boarders. Plus the smaller book stores are more likely to have items from the smaller presses and publishers and stuff that is more literary and serious non-fiction over “We were really cool in WWII, we were like heroes man.”

    I once stepped into a big chain bookstore in SF to get a Holiday Present for someone. It might have been Boarders during their fire sales. While waiting online, I had a very strange sensation that I could be anywhere because every and any Boarders looks the same. This freaked me out.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq says:

      Boarders and Barnes & Nobles actually have a very wide ranging selection including some very serious and not so serious histories. You can’t find the rare books there but it isn’t all rah-rah patriotism stuff.Report

    • Avatar greginak says:

      Borders and B and N have/had far wider selections then any small book store ever had. That is simply a function of size. They had more books on more subjects. They weren’t specialist stores that might have a rare edition of something but they weren’t aiming for that. A small shop might specialize in fiction but that would likely be useless to me since i read mostly science and history. Of course Amazon beats them all now.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        Independent stores in big cities are going to be different than the ones in less populated places because they have a larger customer base to rely on. They could offer more options.Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman says:

        But, as I said up-thread, there is the general sense that if I talk to the manager of a small book store, I can say “hey I’m interested in books on science and history, but your selection is rather small, I think that Book X or Book Y would be interesting to people if you carried them, and could you suggest some similar books?”

        Whereas if you talk to the manager of a chain book store, he’ll shrug and say “here’s the number for the corporate suggestions line, give them a call”.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

        @greginak

        I think Lee is right. An independent (read: mom and pop) store in a big city is going to mean something very different than an independent store in a suburb or a small town usually. Here a mom and pop store can be a bookstore that specializes in history, science, mystery, whatever books. It can also be an expensive boutique

        Of course the expensive boutique is buying goods produced by larger and sometimes global corporations.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Saul,
        functional small towns generally have expensive boutiques too. Filled with homemade/localmade stuff, of course. Why bother importing?Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

        @kim

        The craft economy is where my inner-libertarian kicks in and I become all for economies of scale.

        1. The craft/localvore economy is really just a sustenance economy by a better sounding name. The products produced are often very 19th century seeming: jams, pickles, twee food products, but with a slightly gourmet twist perhaps. It is all so very twee.

        2. The locally produced clothing is getting better but very slowly but it still often very basic and very often not quite good looking or even always locally made. There is a large degree of anti-aesthetic.

        Economies of scale matter for producing wealth because it increases access to material goods from chocolate to electronics.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Saul,
        yeah, huh. It’s evident you haven’t spent much time in WV.
        Localvore around Pittsburgh? Sure, all about micromicrobreweries, local fashion trucks, etc.

        Successful small towns ain’t like that, though.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        Borders doesn’t. Not since 2011.Report

    • Avatar j r says:

      There is also something aesthetic and local about local stores that is good.

      There is nothing objectively good about local stores or about the aesthetic to which you are referring. You like it, because it meshes with your aesthetic and the stores you mention cater to your specific set of tastes and preference. That’s a good thing, but it’s not objectively good in the sense that a world full of Strands and Kim’s Video would be a net gain for everybody. It would only be a net gain for people with your preferences.Report

  5. Avatar Road Scholar says:

    The weird thing about all this is that while folks like friend Hanley defend capitalism like a dog defends its dish, he actively cheers developments that result in fewer capitalists.

    The issue has never been about small businesses paying better — anyone who claimed that was just wrong. The issue is that the opening of a new Wal-mart (just as an example) typically results in the closure of about a hundred small retailers (by some accounts; I can’t verify), which means that a whole bunch of capitalists are then wage/salary drones.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq says:

      James Hanley has always argued that the threat of monopoly is overblown. He also has never advocated that having lots of different capitalists is good in itself.Report

    • Avatar Citizen says:

      Our race to the bottom has been pegged by minimum wage. As bad as it sounds, removal of minimum wage allows local business to compete again.Report

    • Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

      I’m not sure that the replacement of small sole proprietorships with large publicly traded corporations necessarily means fewer capitalists. There’s something to be said for being able to buy stock instead of having to start your own business. In that sense, corporations are lowering the barrier to becoming capitalists by creating investment tiers at, say $500 instead of tiers like, “everything you own and then some.”

      Wal Mart being privately held is a bit of an oddball for giant employers, but I think we have a lot more capitalists with this system than we would if everybody started a small business and 95% of them lost their shirts and went back to working for wages.Report

    • Avatar j r says:

      The weird thing about all this is that while folks like friend Hanley defend capitalism like a dog defends its dish…

      You actually thought up that phrase and then thought further that it would be a good idea to post it?Report

    • Avatar Jim Heffman says:

      “by some accounts; I can’t verify”

      mmm-hmm.Report

  6. Avatar LWA says:

    The comments here raise the question- what do we want the outcome of things to be?
    If wages rise, is that sufficient enough to applaud this?

    We are involved, all of us, in a relationship with these large retailers. Even those who never shop there, are indirectly involved in enforcing their contracts, protecting their property, and so on.

    Are we satisfied with this relationship? Is it producing outcomes and effects we like?Report

    • Avatar Jim Heffman says:

      “If wages rise, is that sufficient enough to applaud this?”

      Isn’t “Wal-Mart makes wages drop!” pretty early on in the litany of Reasons Why Wal-Mart Is Bad?

      If that turns out to not actually be true, doesn’t that mean something?Report

    • Avatar j r says:

      We do decide the outcome of things. We decide by our actions, by where we shop, by how much we buy, by where we work, etc.Report

      • Avatar veronica d says:

        But also by how we vote. See how that works.Report

      • Avatar j r says:

        Call me crazy, but I believe that there are certain areas of human activity that people ought to be able to decide for themselves instead of being put up for referendum. Whether you shop at Walmart or Mom ‘n Pop’s hardware is one of those things.Report

      • Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

        At the WalMart price point, we vote with our dollars just about as democratically as we vote at the ballot box. WalMart isn’t coming in because millionaires are sponsoring it with their private stashes of cash, twirling their mustaches at the death of mom and pop. WalMart is coming because thousands of everyday Joes and Janes are voting pennies at a time to bring it in. It’s supported by the masses. I don’t see how putting it to a vote would get a different result.Report

    • Avatar dhex says:

      “We are involved, all of us, in a relationship with these large retailers. Even those who never shop there, are indirectly involved in enforcing their contracts, protecting their property, and so on.”

      this graf is more fun if you switch out the words to reference abortion.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

      @lwa

      This is largely how I see the issue and possibly the ideological divide. There could be tensions and differences between economic goods and social goods and I don’t see why economic goods should always rule over social ones.Report

  7. Avatar ScarletNumbers says:

    Two big problems with “mom-and-pop” are:

    1) It is tough to advance in the company if you aren’t part of the family. If you are just a student looking for part-time work, this isn’t going to matter, but don’t go looking to make a career of working there.

    2) Mom-and-pop expect a week off in the summer, or might be closed one day a week, or open late or close early.Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew says:

      I find myself wonering whether over the long run the big boxes won’t find it in their interests to seek out ways to make partnerships of some kind with existing and indeed directly competing operations with longstanding ties to the community (or even newer successful small operations with loyal customers), or in any case to seek ways to co-exist with them, which means finding ways to keep them in existence. Over the long term I don’t see how it’s in these companies’ interest to be seen as forces wiping out distinctiveness and tradition in community after community after community. The success of the big boxes doesn’t actually depend on the wiping out of mom & pop or quirky local upstart (I don’t think), but nevertheless seems to result in it all too often. That’s a shame. Reliably having both would be the best.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        How many Americans actually live in distinctive communties that is traditionally neighborhoods and towns with some sense of history, institutions, and tradition behind them compared to those that live in cookie-cutter suburbs and subdivisions built by developers with none of the above?Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        “Over the long term I don’t see how it’s in these companies’ interest to be seen as forces wiping out distinctiveness and tradition in community after community after community”

        People have been complaining about corporate america and/or american corporatism steamrolling local and regional distinctiveness since at least Sinclair Lewis.

        Big box has mostly displaced other big box (Monty Ward is long gone, Sears is on life support) who were mid 20th century stalwarts of their communities. And much of the current big box picture in more specialty areas is in serious trouble. (e.g. Best Buy, and the already defunct Borders). There are still a lot of empty strip malls around the country (and indoor malls are in even worse shape) in the aftermath of both the great recession and longer term secular trends.

        If there’s one thing the ‘big box’ concept in which may squishing local upstarts, it’s in the restaurant business. A local diner has a hard time competing with the casual corporate Ruby Tuesday / Max & Erma’s establishments, which can use economy of scale in their supply chains that low end independents can’t match. So the local restaurant scene is required to go high end or go home. But in the end, if you get better restaurants, isn’t that a good thing?Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        How are we defining up-scale? Based on watching Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and my local experience traveling there are plenty of restaurants that offer food thats a lot better than chain restaurants but not exactly what I’d call up-scale dining.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

        @kolohe

        Ditto what Lee said. Also plenty of places seem to have non-corporate, non-chain Greek Dinners.Report

  8. Avatar KatherineMW says:

    Your quote isn’t really responding to people’s complaints about wages at big retailers – yes, if you average out the wages of all employees, a bigger company will have more middle management and the average will be higher. That doesn’t tell you anything about the wages and benefits of the non-managerial-level employees at big companies relative to small independent ones. Having more middle management doesn’t make it automatically okay to pay your employees starvation wages, keep them on part-time so that you don’t have to provide benefits, shut down your stores if they even try to organize for better treatment, and generally treat them like crap.

    Also, people are more forgiving of small independent shops because the owners are also earning a lot less than the owners of the big franchises. Paying your employees $8/hr and earning $60,000/yr net yourself is different, from an ethical standpoint, than paying your employees $8/hr and earning billions a year, net.

    Also, it seems to me that employees would have relatively more bargaining power when working for a small business. If you’ve got several hundred employees in one store and an employee leaves because they’re dissatisfied with their treatment, that doesn’t significantly affect your work. If you’ve got ten employees and one of them wants to leave because they’re dissatisfied with their treatment, finding someone else is a significantly larger burden relative to your overall profits, so you’ve got an incentive to try to address their dissatisfaction in a way that convinces them to stay.

    Anecdotally, I’ve heard very negative comments from people who worked in entry-level positions for large franchises, whereas I worked for a while as dishwasher at a local restaurant and was treated (and paid – ~$11.50/hr) well. (One of my memories from that is dropping a large armful of plates coming down the stairs. My reaction was “Oh no, the plates!” Everyone else’s was “Never mind the plates, are you OK?” [I was fine.] Cynical people have told me they were probably worried about workers’ comp.)

    Regarding big vs. small businesses more broadly:

    Isn’t one of the basic precepts of pro-market ideology “competition is good, because it leads to better quality/selection/variety/prices of goods and services”? If you’ve got seven or eight big-box franchises in town rather than 50-100 locally owned places, then you’ve got less competition. You’ve gone from having a market to having an oligopoly.

    Bookstores are one example. Yes, the big places like Borders have more books overall than a small place, but the selection is overwhelmingly mainstream stuff that you could find anywhere. Small bookstores carry different kinds of books – a greater range of historical and political perspectives, local writers, obscure old books. Even when you’re not looking for anything in particular, you might find something neat you’ve never heard of before. I went to a nice local bookstore in the Old Strathcona neighbourhood of Edmonton and found a ton of fascinating books that I’d never have thought of looking for specifically. Independent bookstore are infinitely more fun to browse. (And used ones in particular have amazing deals.)

    The same goes for plenty of other types of local stores. They’re fun to shop in. The big stores are where you go when you know precisely what you want and are hoping to get it on sale. Small, locally-owned stores are where you go when you actually want to enjoy a shopping trip.

    With regard to grocery stores – the independent ones have less selection overall, but many of them also have more local produce, more specialty items, and substantially better fresh produce.Report

  9. Like Lee, I’m not a big fan of the idea of mom-and-pop stores, especially when, as in Chicago in some cases, small businesses rally to oppose the creation of Walmarts and other businesses because the big boxers allegedly drive them out of business. (In these discussions, the question rarely comes up about how many of those doing the rallying are truly small businesses, or if mom and pop live in some suburb and come to the city only during the day to raise up the bulletproof shutters that protect their storefront windows.)

    Also like Lee, I think small business owners can be just as exploitative as large businesses. It’s not because they’re bad or peculiarly greedy. It’s because they’re humans operating in a set of incentives.

    That said, there’s a small grocery in my neighborhood that I like to go to when I can. I have a major, chain grocer about equidistant from my apartment, but I like to support this local store when I can. They’re very nice to me there, but I’m under no illusions that it’s an ideal labor situation. I don’t know one way or the other, but it seems like a lot of hard work. Still, I don’t like to see somebody lose their business.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq says:

      I’m not even a fan of calling them mom and pop stores, which gives them a quiantenece that most of them don’t deserve. There are small, independent businesses. I’m not necessarily against them in general. There are things they do a lot better than large chains like Walmart, Best Buy, or Olive Garden. What I do not like is the romanticization. Like Yglesias, I believe you can not and should not form policy on the basis of sentimental memories. The sentimental memories are usually not exactly correct. Like Kolohoe pointed out, small independent stores have been trying to use government to fight against big stores since the turn of the 20th century. In the past, the battle was against the the department stores.* Now its against Walmart and similar options.

      *I would lament that the fall of the department store outside of certain metropolitan areas is one of the great losses in retail. They were big businesses like Walmart but even the most modest ones had a better sense of elegance about it. I’m not much of a recreational shopper compared to Saul but I find being in a real department store much more appealing than a big box store or mall.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        One step further, if you will, Lee. We should not make laws because we are afraid. And sentiment is the result of fear.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. Suffering leads to wisdom. Wisdom leads to understanding. Understanding leads to acceptance. Acceptance leads to Maturity.

        At this point “X leads to Y” google searches dry up.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        J,
        I’m saying fear leads to Sentimental posts like the one the Doc had up about Aids Camp.
        Or about people crying because the Stage Deli (or Gullifty’s) closed.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        @jaybird I assume ‘Maturity leads to Death’.

        So, Fear on the one end, and Death on the other.

        It appears Google searches are surprisingly astute and maybe even profound about life.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

        @glyph

        I dissent on the maturity leads to death sentiment.Report