Book Review: Big Box Swindle – The True Cost Of Mega-Retailers.

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If you have been looking for an uplifting, positive good news summer read, look no further! Sorry, couldn’t resist…this book, “Big-Box Swindle: The True Cost of Mega-Retailers and the Fight for America’s Independent Businesses” by Stacy Mitchell is not exactly an easy summer read but rather an infuriating look at how big box stores are destroying independent businesses.

“Some chains have responded to criticism by establishing “codes of conduct” for suppliers and regularly inspecting their factories….Li Qiang, who used to work at a toy factory in China, now heads China Labor Watch and says that Wal-Mart gave his factory days of advance warning before an inspection so that the owners could clean up, coach employees on what to say, and create fake time cards to hide brutally long hours and wages below the legal minimum….On the day of the inspection, the workforce in the factory was reduced from 500 to 100 and those that gave correct answers to the inspectors were rewarded with a bonus equal to thirty-six hours’ wages.”

From moving into a community and driving out independent businesses that have been around for 100 years to treating their employees like dirt, big box stores have a tremendously negative affect on almost every town they move into. These stores both close down any store in their path and send their tax dollars out of the community, further deepening the chasm between the haves and the have nots. The people in the towns that get these stores think they are going to save money on everyday items, but studies have shown that not to be true, as Ms. Mitchell clearly demonstrates in her book. However, she is also quick to point out that the communities themselves are partly to blame for allowing these stores to take over their local businesses in chasing the “not actually there” tax dollars that these stores say they will bring in. If you are interested in reading more about how big-box stores work, what they do to communities, how people don’t actually benefit but rather hurt themselves by shopping at them and how you can help your community avoid the fate of so many others, this book is a must read. I got it from the library, but it took 2 renewals to get through it; it’s a big book. If you cannot find it at your library, you can pick up a copy from Amazon (there are some used copies there as well) and provide a few pennies to help out The Good Human. Either way, if you are concerned about big-box stores taking over, you must read this book.

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