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A city with no supermarkets, large shops, or copy/paste business models

Image credit: The model Daisy Lowe, centre, filmmaker Heidi Greensmith and the artist Sir Peter Blake

Darko Savic
Darko Savic Nov 21, 2021
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A city where every retail business is limited to only one shop with a maximum area of 200 m2. Retail businesses can only be owned by permanent, long-term city residents who work in those shops.
  • Switch from chain stores to local shops.
  • Replace corporate uniformity with diversity among small businesses.
  • Encourage direct contact between the business owner and the customer.
  • Early steps to remove large corporations from people's lives.
  • An experiment to see if it could improve citizens' quality of life.
  • Live where you work so that you can experience the wellbeing of the residents and the area.
  • Be in touch with local people so that "the business game" doesn't get too abstract for you and you lose touch with the potential side effects of your success.
  • Be prosperous but not parasitic.
How it works
The path of least resistance for something like this to be feasible is to start with a new city or an area that isn't overrun by corporations yet and has the potential to grow into a nice city.
Establish several rules that apply to all local retail businesses:
  • maximum square space of sales area
  • only one business of a similar kind allowed per owner
  • the owner has to physically work there
  • the owner has to be a permanent resident and live there for a few years

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General comments

Miloš Stanković
Miloš Stanković3 years ago
Akin to the last two points on the owner living and working there, I always thought that elected officials should be forced to take public transit to work. At the very least the people involved with the Department of Transportation. That way they'd have skin in the game.
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Spook Louw
Spook Louw3 years ago
I like the idea, the only thing I would point out is that this model might be seen to discourage commercial success. While there is nothing wrong with small businesses and promoting supporting local retailers, some of the rules that you suggest in order to keep franchises out of such a town/city might eventually be a constraint for some of the businesses who are meant to benefit from this.
For example, the success of such a business might lead to a point where the logical next step would be to open up more branches, or the owner might be able to afford to hire enough staff so that he/she might not need to work in the store anymore. Smaller businesses also tend to have to charge more as their products do not come in bulk from major suppliers, and they won't be able to offer the community as many job opportunities as franchise stores. So there might be some negative consequences to the local economy.
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Darko Savic
Darko Savic3 years ago
I was born before my town transitioned from locally run small businesses to large multinational chain stores taking over and suffocating the small ones. Now, the once beautiful and busy town center is pretty much dead with many vacant shops.
I remember wondering where all the huge chain stores that keep popping up will get the customers. There are not that many people here. That was about 100 supermarkets ago. They keep popping up next to each other and I keep wondering:)
Large multinationals have a way of "getting things done". One of them managed to build a huge concrete store on top of the town's clean water harvesting area where there was strictly a no-building zone. Surely this can't be in the interest of people? I can imagine this being in the interest of the owner, but maybe not the people.
Thus the proposed experiment above:
  • live where you work so that you care about the residents and the area
  • be in touch with the people so that "the game" doesn't get too abstract for you and you lose touch with the potential side effects of your success
  • be prosperous but not parasitic
Please leave the feedback on this idea