Living in Society Social Commentary

Not Much of a Boycott

Geifman Food Store on LocustWord from a friend was to leave discussion of the Solon city council’s minimum wage vote at home when I visit later in the week. It’s nice to know stuff like that in advance.

More than a few locals are upset about the decision to lower the city’s minimum wage to the state figure after the county raised it. Some, including people who live here, have called for a boycott of Solon businesses.

My response is a boycott won’t matter much in our household.

Our main dining out is at Nomi’s Asian Restaurant where we have been going since she and her husband opened. Asian takeout will continue to be on our menu when we don’t want to cook at home. It is too far to drive anywhere else to get it. We only visit bars and eateries in town when there is a specific meet up with people we know, and not many times in a year.

I’ll continue to buy convenience foods at the grocery store. The staples are secured at a variety of other stores for lower prices, better selection, and to meet specific needs. We go to the grocery store more often than we dine out, but not by much.

When I worked in Coralville I bought gasoline at Costco because of the convenience and a slight discount. This business will transfer to Solon, but the impact on the local economy will be almost nil. As everyone knows, margins are slim on retail gasoline sales. At our two Casey’s General Stores the revenue goes directly into whatever bank the Ankeny based corporation uses. Casey’s has the city’s lowest price for a gallon of milk, so when we run out of Costco milk at $2.60 per gallon, I’ll buy at Casey’s for a dollar more.

I visit the hardware store for certain needs. I buy canning supplies there even though they are more expensive. It is the kind of hardware store where a person can take in a bolt or screw and buy more like it — exactly how many are needed. They carry things used in a typical garage: lawn mower spark plugs, clips, fasteners, hand tools, lubricants and sundry items. If a need develops, they will be the first stop because of their inventory. The two women who run the place may or may not be making a wage. They didn’t come to the city council meeting. I suspect they have an opinion, but don’t want to share it publicly. Likewise for every other business owner that didn’t speak at the meeting.

All told, the amount of dollars we spend in the community never amounted to a hill of beans, or any other legume. If I participated in a boycott of local business it would hurt me more than them, increasing the isolation that has become home to us. In any case a boycott is not being organized like others that have been successful. The boycott talk is more fantasy than reality.

In 1965 our family boycotted grapes to support the Delano Grape strike. I remember Father explaining who Cesar Chavez was, that grapes were grown mostly in the California Central Valley, and the importance of a fair wage. We weren’t buying them at the Geifman’s Food Store near our house and didn’t for the duration of the boycott. I loved grapes, and still do, but accepted that there was a shared cause that required sacrifice.

There is none of that in the relatively wealthy Solon environs over this issue. If there were, a boycott would be more viable. For now, life goes on much as it did before the city council voted to lower minimum wage.