Friday, June 15, 2007

Booknote: Big-Box Swindle

Mitchell, Stacy. Big-Box Swindle: The True Cost of Mega-retailers and the Fight for America's Independent Business. Boston: Beacon Press, 0-8070-3500-9.

Genre: Nonfiction
Subgenre: Business, retail, chain stores and franchises

I picked this up from my library's new book cart, and after reading a few pages, I was hooked. I started reading it that day. Right away, I think this may be a book of interest for some students in the freshman composition classes who at times write on topics about multinationals or big-box stores. The book looks at how big-box retailers basically come into towns, wreck the local economies, and then often leave after a few years leaving behind empty box buildings and shattered downtowns. The author lays out the case of the high cost of big box retailers. Contrary to the jingles advertising low prices and convenience, the reality is that very often the cost is very high in terms of economic, social, and environmental consequences. But the book is not only a case against the big boxes. It also shows how independent small businesses and communities have banded together to keep the big boxes away and create new economies, or revive old ones, to keep money in their towns and thus grow their local economies in the interest of the community. Overall, an interesting reading. It is well documented, and it includes extensive notes at the end of the book.

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