"We're more looking for the healthy balance where the corporate chains don't become the dominant institution or retailer in a town, because that really does kill the balance of what you need to have a thriving democracy," so says Hanson Hosein. He and his wife, Heather Hughes, are both accomplished television news anchors, writers, and producers who set out around the U.S. to get footage for their film, Independent America.
The documentary came out in November, 2005. Hughes and Hosein produced the independent film on a shoestring budget and never found a distributor, but the movie has been gaining in popularity through word of mouth.
On the above YouTube link, you'll hear clips from people around the U.S. supporting their local Mom & Pop shops and explaining that they want to "feel some authenticity in life...something real." And that's what local stores give them, that "you're important" and "we know your name" attitude that big box stores can't or don't give.
BusinessWeek interviewed Hosein and Hughes recently and they described some of their favorite stops during their trip (by the way, one of their rules was that they ONLY stop at Mom & Pop stores...no McDonald's or Walmart allowed).
Hosein says that the climax of the film takes place in Powell, Wyoming. This community had chain retail, until the economy went down the tubes and the population dwindled to 10,000. So, rather than driving 75 miles to shop at the closest Wal-Mart, the town started its own store -- a for-profit department store called Powell Mercantile, "The Merc" for short. Hosein says, "It opened up a few years ago, and has evolved into a successful model of community-run retail that a lot of other communities around the country are striving to emulate."
Check out a few other local stores in the Powell community:
Cowlick and Hooves
Heart Mountain Farm Supply
I encourage you to take a peak at the YouTube snippets from Independent America as well as our own MerchantCircle video - A History of Business, and continue supporting and connecting with your fellow merchants!