Giant national chains such as WalMart, Office Max and Home Depot have moved into small towns. Many local retailers feel helpless and at the mercy of politicians and giant corporations. 

Think about retailing. What’s involved? What can be changed? How can local retailers, restaurants and service people survive competition from the giant national discount chains that are moving into small towns?

Take a pack of index cards and write your ideas on the cards. Jot down one idea per card, put it aside and write your next idea on the next card and so on until you run dry. Write the ideas as they occur to you good ones, bad ones, bizarre ones, exotic ones, all mixed up together without regard to logic or value. The two keys to this technique are: (1) Produce the greatest possible quantity of ideas, and (2) Do not evaluate any idea until you have listed everything you can think of.

When you are finished, take your pack of idea cards and:

  • Sort and evaluate them.
  • Combine ideas.
  • Free associate and keep adding ideas.
  • Consider the ideas from the perspective of:
  • Local retailer
    • Local citizen
    • Giant retailers
    • Draw or diagram your ideas

How did you do?

In Western Massachusetts the local retailers took action.  

They have created their own currency called Berkshares (named after the Berkshire Mountains) to help local retailers.  A number of bank branches, along with many businesses in the community, agreed to exchange dollars (100 Berkshares can be bought for $95, offering shoppers a 5% discount). Local artists designed the Berkshares as elegant bills, in denominations from one to fifty. Each bill shows the figure of a famous person from the region such as Norman Rockwell.

More than $2.5 million worth of scrip was issued in 2010 and hundreds of businesses, from dentists to jewelers, had agreed to accept it. The grocer accepts the currency from customers and uses Berkshares to pay farmers for produce. The farmers bring the bills into town to buy their supplies. The local currency gives people a way to separate their economic destiny from Washington.

By taking action and creating a way to counter the national chain discounters they attracted help from unforeseen incidents and material assistance to help them manufacture the scrip which is recycled through the community. 

When you act, things happen.

Just like young birds in the South Pacific that go on night flights with their mama and papa birds. They navigate by the stars, but there’s no way they have in their head already a map of the night sky, because the night sky changes every 400 or 500 years as we move through the galaxy. They can’t innately have a map to navigate. They have to go out and have experience, but once they get the experience and check out what is the night sky, they have it. Same with people.



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