By Stanley Bing
March 28, 2008

I have an idea to stimulate the economy. This weekend, let’s all go out and spend some money.

Yes, I know a lot of us don’t have as much to spread around as we used to. But usually, we have something. Ten bucks. Twenty. Those who are more fortunate should bear a greater responsibility. I mean, it’s quite clear that putting your money in the bank isn’t as safe as we once thought it was. And the return for that investment, after taxes? It’s barely worth mentioning.

No, far better, I think, to go down to your local retail store and pump some cash back into our mutual economic system. And while I love the big chain stores for convenience and price, I also believe it may be time for us all to start doing our civic duty by supporting the little stores that are more expensive, less convenient, but whose revenue flows into the pockets of Mr. and Ms. Neighborperson.

I know a town, for instance, that had two little bookstores. One day a major chain moved into the strip mall right next door to Little Bookstore #1. Six months later, Little Bookstore #1 had to close. Boo hoo, right? That’s the way it goes. Guess what happened then. The big chain closed the branch that had put Little Bookstore #1 out of business and applied for a permit to open a bigger, newer branch in town. Guess where? Right. Directly across a parking lot from Little Bookstore #2.

The good news is that this particular community is filled with weirdos that hate big corporations, and so Little Bookstore #2 is doing fine so far. And the big chain, I now read, is having trouble in the face on onslaughts from Amazon. So time will tell.

A few years ago, in this same town, there was a hardware store in the main square. It was a funky place and smelled like wet dog and old mustard. A large super-mega-transactional emporium devoted to home improvement moved in not far away. Today the space that was once occupied by that cramped, antiquated hardware store has a swank men’s clothing store in it. A while back I went in and asked them if they had socks. They did indeed. How much were the socks? $40 a pair. I didn’t get any socks.

Thanks to ITunes (AAPL) and Amazon (AMZN), all the music stores are pretty much gone. And there aren’t very many mom-and-pop food stores, either. Those that do exist, however, do tend to offer food that was grown a little closer to home than your average Ring Ding. I hear that can be good for you. In addition to the Ring Dings, of course.

But frankly, I don’t really care where you shop. I don’t really care where I shop. I just plan to try to get out there every day I can and give something back to the system.

This weekend, I think I’ll get some mulch. It’s spring. Who couldn’t use a little mulch? There’s one garden/hardware store not all that far away from us. True, it’s very disorganized there and the employees have been around so long, and are generally so confused and indolent, that you can never find anything. The prices are high. The woman behind the cash register is blind. But it’s been in the same family for generations and there’s a Japanese place next door that we like to go to, owned by a family that I think just got off the boat. If I’m lucky, I’ll get out of the day for under a hundred bucks. That’s sort of what I feel comfortable doing right now. How about you?

Like, if any of you could purchase a couple million American-made cars this weekend, could you please do so? You’d have the thanks of a grateful nation, that’s for sure.

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