August 7, 2000


Discerning Consumer

written by
Lynn Trenning

























For more about Lynn Trenning, please visit her main page.

aired on WFAE, August 7, 2000

Being a discerning consumer is an endless challenge. There are so many things to get upset about in this world. Some corporations violate human rights, others commit environmental crimes, & still others donate money to the wrong political party (according to me). It is impossible to track all corporate infractions. But you have to have rules to shop by, because you can't buy everything you see, so I've created a few for myself. As the saying goes, you are what you buy.

I will not eat in a restaurant where someone has been killed. I know of three in Charlotte. I'm sure there are more. One was a former hardware store where the proprietor got bludgeoned to death by an unknown assailant. One is where the former proprietor shot a burglar in self-defense. Another is a popular fast food restaurant where a manager was shot in cold blood. People say I'm unfairly punishing today's owners for the sins of a criminal. I say it's a question of respect. And appetite.

I don't buy clothes that advertise the company that made them in huge letters across the chest of the product. I expect to be reimbursed for such promotion. People who sport such products are both unwitting billboards and unpaid labor.

I will not shop in any establishment that assaults my ears. This includes grocery stores where an announcer incessantly prattles about in-store specials, restaurants with televisions turned on so loud they interfere with conversations, and retail establishments with radios tuned into the static station. You may as well simultaneously drill my molar and drag my fingernails on a newly washed chalkboard. Such tactics don't make me want to shop until I drop.

I will not shop in a stand-alone drug store, or a new drug store that stands in the place of an old favorite drug store. I will not shop in a drug store that has not complied with simple aesthetically pleasing building plans requested by the neighbors who are supposed to frequent that drug store.

I will not eat in restaurants that have less than an A grade from the Health Department. I have worked in many restaurants, and know what can go on even in the cleanest of kitchens, so if you have a B rating, call me next year when they give you another chance, and maybe I will too.

I will not shop at large box stores that pull their locations from the inner city and invest their resources in building suburban sprawl on the outskirts of the city on former farmland. These stores support poor land use, unwisely squander infrastructure dollars, and encourage more people to drive further distances, which decreases the quality of life in many ways. I really can't say enough mean things about them.

I will not shop at stores where the clerk doesn't greet me pleasantly one out of three times. I'd like to be more strict about this rule, but in today's rude economy, I'd have to live without consumer goods.

Sometimes I have to break these rules and it hurts me, so I do it alone, in a hurry, and will deny it later even to those closest to me. But you can only break rules if you have them, so make yourselves a few. The only power you have as a consumer is to withhold your wallet.

~ Lynn Trenning

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