Book Review - The Small-Mart Revolution: How Local Businesses are Beating the Global Competition by Michael H Shuman
Review by Meghan Mast
While “Going Local” speaks hypothetically about how communities can move closer to self-reliance, “The Small-Mart Revolution” is a celebration of this idea in action.
Michael H. Shuman’s dedication, a humorous stance against multinational corporations, is the perfect preface to his new book, the sequel to “Going Local.” He writes, “For Adam and Rachel, so they understand some day why Daddy would prefer not to take them to McDonald’s.” Shuman is quick to let the reader know though, that he also struggles against the draw of big businesses.
On a recent trip to a big box store, intending to just buy flip flops, Shuman confesses to spending $275—blinded by falling prices and flashy labels. Quality quickly became apparent though, as each of his purchases shortly broke or malfunctioned. Clearly, this experience illustrates the downfall of big businesses.
However, Shuman’s dedication and opening confession do not precede what the reader might expect. Instead of launching into a lengthy critique of multinational corporations, the book changes direction. In fact, what makes the content of “The Small-Mart Revolution” so refreshing is Shuman’s focus on the positive—the ability for small businesses to revitalize communities and local economies.
The undying optimism that runs throughout the book inspires readers to realize that change is not only possible, but it is happening. Shuman insists that small businesses are winning against the big corporations.
For almost every one of the last ten years, the death rate of large corporations exceeds the birth rate, while for small businesses the birth rate has been exceeding the death rate. In addition, the number of farmer’s markets between the mid-nineties and now has more than doubled.
In order for the small-mart revolution to continue to be a success, everyone needs to be involved, including consumers, investors, entrepreneurs and policy makers. Consumers are particularly important, as we regulate demand which in turn influences the supply. When we demand local businesses and local products, the market will change in that direction.
Shuman writes, “A truly revolutionary premise of the Small-Mart Revolution is that each of us has the power, skill and resources to take charge of our own destiny and restore vitality to our communities.” How’s that for inspiring a “hurray” to small business and prospering communities!