“Shop local” and “Shop handmade” are great slogans for the holiday season that we should all try to live by. But sometimes, you just need something a little more mass-produced — whether it’s having to buy a huge batch of gifts for clients, or just wanting to fit some convenient shopping into your busy schedule.
So where is the ethical consumer supposed to shop when they don’t have the time (or funds) to hire a local artisan? Offbeat sponsors are a great starting point, but here are some additional companies worth checking out…
The biggest compliment I can give this company was actually lodged as a complaint by a Wall Street broker. Costco cares more about its members and its employees than about its shareholders. “Could Costco make more money if the average wage was two or three dollars lower?” asks Galanti [the CFO]. “The answer is yes. But we’re not going to do it.” Costco is committed to providing an adequate wage and healthcare to all of its employees and doesn’t believe either should be sacrificed for the sake of being MORE profitable. Did you know that when the recession hit, their CEO’s response was to mandate all employees get a RAISE? He claimed that when times are tough you should be trying to figure out how to give your employees more, not less. Seriously, these guys make me cry.
Read more about how amazing this company’s views are in Business Week: Costco CEO Craig Jelinek leads the cheapest, happiest company in the world. And if you don’t have a Costco near you, fear not! They have a website.
As evil corporations go, Starbucks is one of the best. Did you know their employees qualify for full health care at only 20 hours a week? That they pay for them to go to college? What about their partnerships with local coffee growers to ensure sustainable and ethical growing and harvesting? You can read all about it on their website (though be prepared to wade through the rhetoric; it is a biased source after all). If all that isn’t enough to sway you to the dark side, at least love them for the snark. In response to a shareholder’s claim that supporting gay marriage may have hurt Starbuck’s profit margin, the CEO replied “If you feel, respectfully, that you can get a higher return than the 38% you got last year, it’s a free country. You can sell your shares in Starbucks and buy shares in another company. Thank you very much.” He further claimed that it wasn’t an economic decision for him; that making a clear statement of supporting the diversity of his 200,000 employees was more important than one quarter’s profit margin. And all of this skips over the local impact of individual Starbucks stores. The Starbucks I worked at donated all of its used coffee grounds for compost and all of its uneaten pastries to shelters. It also showcased the work of tons of local artists for no gallery fee.
If the outsourcing of American manufacturing is one of your hot button issues, you need to check out American Giant. Personally, when I need a new jacket I head to Goodwill, or hope someone will forget something cool at my house. But if you’re one of those people who can afford to hit up a mall or a department store for your outerwear needs, consider this company instead. We are talking higher quality, American-made textiles. This article can tell you more about it: American Giant hoodie: This is the greatest sweatshirt known to man.
Warning: After this article went viral, American Giant ended up with a huge backlog. I think they’ve recovered at this point, but it’s worth double checking if you want to use these as Christmas gifts.
Maybe you don’t think of grocery stores when you think of holiday shopping, but you should. In addition to providing for those big meals, most grocery stores sell greeting cards, gift cards, seasonal decor, flowers, and plenty of gift appropriate housewares, Publix is the largest employee owned business in America. You read that right: after a year of employment (with a 1000 hours of work) every employee starts earning stock options.
They aren’t in many states, but if you’ve got them, use them. If nothing else, it’s really nice to have someone help you load your groceries into your car on a rainy day when you forgot your coat and hat. To read more about Publix’s business model, check out this article: The Walmart Slayer: How Publix’s “people first” culture is winning the grocery war. Or for a more basic impression of Publix as an employer, just check out their reviews.
What are your go-to companies for when you have to shop big?