I’ve recently read about two trends that, on the face of it, seem to be contradictory, but actually share a common thread. The first is a project to whittle your possessions down to 100 items and the other is a variation of the flash mob, called a “cash mob”.
The 100 Thing Challenge is a project started back in 2007 by a San Diego resident named Dave Bruno who has been gradually reducing his possessions to 100 “essential” things. It was featured in an article in Time magazine in 2008 (Get Rid of Clutter: 100 Thing Challenge Helps Shed Stuff – TIME). Since then Dave’s original blog has evolved into a book in the course of attracting a large following.
Spring is when we usually cast a critical eye at our own ‘surplus’ belongings so it seems like a good time to think about whether we could be satisfied with just 100 essentials. Bags are starting to appear beside the used clothing boxes and some people are probably making a mental list for community garage sales. Simcoe County has a helpful web page, Recycle Links, with links to recycling options for unwanted ‘stuff’, especially large items. I was interested in a link there called “Freecycle.org”. This is supposed to be a web-based site where you can offer useable items for free to residents in your community. This seemed like a promising idea but I found it difficult to access (registration required) and I never did get to view any local listings. Has anyone else had any experience with Freecycle that they’d like to share?
This might be a good time to also mention Shawn’s Place, a recent retail addition to Innisfil Beach Road. I’m not sure how to describe it – something of a general store – it’s a combination of new and used items for sale. Everything from used power tools and furniture to some new watches, clothing and linens. Whether you’re looking to add a few essentials or want to shed a surplus item or two, it might be worth a visit.
That brings me to the surprising phenomenon of “cash mobs” (Cash Mobs Use Social Media …):
“At the first International Cash Mob day on Saturday, wallet- toting activists gathered in as many as 200 mobs in the United States and Europe, with the aim of spending at least $20 a piece in locally owned businesses, according to the concept’s founder, Cleveland lawyer, Andrew Samtoy.”
The concept is unique in that it is driven by groups of local consumers connected by social media, not by marketers, and the rules are simple: “… “he only has three rules or goals as he explains them: ‘You have to spend at least $20, meet three people you never met before and have fun’.”
I started by saying these two trends share a common thread. Both are an expression of a desire, seen more and more, to disconnect from the globalized mass-market, big-box franchised economy and connect instead with the unique, independent and local found within each community. Locally, Canadian Tire didn’t recognize an opportunity in Innisfil, but an independent entrepreneur has opened Ed’s Performance Automotive in the Crossroads Plaza. The MacDonalds and the Walmarts of today might want to worry.