Originally published in Action Outdoor & Bike Magazine
There’s a Simpsons episode where Homer travels back to the Jurassic era. He sneezes. One after another, like dominoes, the dinosaurs keel over and die with huge crashes that shake the ground. It is a perfect illustration of our current economic situation.
DOWN WITH DINO
Bruce Lipton and Steve Bhaerman explain in their book, Spontaneous Evolution that the Industrial Revolution combined with consumer complacency created the perfect economic environment for the development of international corporate giants.
They compare these and other massive entities to dinosaurs. Like dinosaurs, they dominate the landscape with their massive size…size that also limits their ability to adapt and respond to shifts in the climate. They can only be successful in a narrow niche.
And that niche is changing. We are not in the midst of an economic collapse, but a correction. Systems, whether they be biological, mechanical or economic only survive when a balance exists. If one part becomes too large and disrupts the equilibrium, the system as a whole is at risk for failure. Too big to fail institutions are actually too big to sustain success because they have become a potential threat to the system’s survival. The current natural self-correction to restore balance to that same system has triggered an upheaval that signals the end of the Jurassic era of economics.
So what does that mean for all of us little guys? When the dinosaurs’ reign came to an end, the “mammals seized the opportunity to become the masters of the bio- sphere.” We are entering the economic equivalent of the Mammalian age. Now is the time for small, innovative, community-oriented businesses to become masters of the econo-sphere.
PEOPLE AREN’T SPENDING LIKE THEY USED TO
That’s right they aren’t. But it’s not all bad news. The age of consumer complacency is ending as shoppers begin to realize that every dollar they spend is a vote. Wal-Mart stopped carrying hormone-laced dairy products because their shoppers demanded it, and even set new requirements reducing vendor packaging when customers objected to the plastic waste in clam shell containers.
I divide my time between California and South Florida, and depending on where in the country your shop resides, you are seeing different degrees of evolution. Close to my west-coast home, a major bookstore chain went out of business while two independent, local book shops of equal size continue to thrive. During my last stay in Florida, I noticed that while many of the massive chains are alive and well, more shoppers were making the choice to go out of their way and even spend a little more to support local businesses.
SHOP DOC, PROSCRIBING WELLNESS
Also at the front line of the shift in consumer spending is the billions of dollars Americans spend on healthcare. Almost everyone knows someone or has themselves had a nightmare story about being discard- ed or failed by the healthcare system. It is estimated that approximately 60 percent of all bankruptcies filed are due to excessive medical bills. Fed up consumers are turning to alternative sources.
I’ve seen it among my own friends and clients—suddenly, acupuncturists, nutritionists and chiropractors who were struggling to get by are now struggling to keep up with the influx of new patients. Preventative healthcare is alive and well. People are hungry for ways to improve their well- being, and as a purveyor of action-oriented goods, you can help them.
Every diabetes diagnosis is a potential customer. My friend Dave barely moved from the couch until diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Thanks to a great doctor, instead of medication, he bought a bike, joined Team in Training and became a big fan of vegetables. All that money he would have put into medical treatment is freed up for spending at his local bike shop.
Now is the time to get creative and collaborate with others in your community to educate and empower the people who most need to get moving. What if you partnered with a doctor’s office on a beginner bike clinic for people managing diabetes? What else commonly ails people in your area? Who else is serving that population? What are their biggest challenges in that service? How can you help with those challenges? More than just the tools for better health sitting on your shelves, you may carry the answer to a better quality of life.
JOIN ME AT THE AOB EXPO TO CONTINUE THIS DISCUSSION
Healthcare is just one of the ways consumers are spending differently than they used to. It’s the first area of change because the personal impact is immediate, and as a system, healthcare has most blatantly let down its customers.
More and more patrons choose to buy local products from local business owners and keep dollars in their community. Whether you are in a region at the forefront of emerging buying trends or they’re on their way to you, now is the time to establish your business as a frontrunner in the areas driving these purchasing decisions.