The Case for Local Shops

"It is surely the case that 'big box' stores can, owing again to their clout as buyers, deliver a host of manufactured goods at a cheaper price than the petty bourgeoisie. What is not so clear, however, is whether, once one has factored in all the public goods... the petty bourgeoisie provides--informal social work, public safety, the aesthetic pleasures of an animated and interesting streetscape, a large variety of social experiences and personalized services, acquaintance networks, informal neighborhood news and gossip, a building block of social solidarity and public action, and (in the case of the smallholding peasantry) good stewardship of the land--the petty bourgeoisie might not bem in a full accounting, a far better bargain, in the long run, than the large, impersonal capitalist firm." -- James C. Scott, Two Cheers for Anarchism

If you have never lived in a neighborhood with a thriving culture of local commercial activity, you will have no idea how different it is than shopping the big box stores. I shop almost every day in my neighborhood, and it is a daily pleasure, rather than the grim chore that is going to Home Depot or Walmart.


  1. Yes it is nicer but I expect you're in the top 25%. Declining marginal utility etc. As people get richer they demand more character and pleasure from shopping.

    1. Poor people need neighborhood shops much more than rich people do! See list of externalities above, and Jane Jacobs on cities.


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