Thursday, September 24, 2009

Tantra, the Goddess of Shut the Fuck Up, or IKEA Redux

For the past couple of days, I've been receiving comments on my blog entry of April 18 from a person who identifies herself as Tantra, the Goddess of Flight. I used to see her name on the Noise Board (electronic message board) but I don't know that I've ever met her. Because her comments are emotional, nonsensical, and contained personal insinuations and attacks, I chose not to print them. But a video posted on Facebook by Somerville Local First crossed my path today that again raised questions about the impact on local communities of big box stores. Seeing as all this is now spinning around in my head, I'll post it all as an interesting case of point/counterpoint (or, more accurately, confused rantings of a possibly inebriated mind/counterpoint).

Exhibit A: Tantra's First Comment

I disagree with you on several points. First, Ikea can not in any way, shape, or form, be compared to Walmart. Ikea has a grand total of 230 stores worldwide with only 30 or so in the United States. Compare this to Walmart's 4500 or so and counting. Not even close. World domination is not the point with Ikea. Second, about your "box store" point: Ikea sells only furniture and domestic goods. In order to display furniture, you need a lot of room. Every Ikea is also a complete, fully-stocked warehouse hence the large buildings. They may have a cafe but there are no auto parts, clothing, pharmacy, and pet food. They are not even close to being one-stop shopping for all your worldly needs like Walmart professes to be (have you ever been to Ikea?). Third, I am completely in favor of supporting local business and agree that some corporations stifle competition, however, I doubt that Ikea will put Eddie's New and Used Furniture out of business. They serve a different demographic. Besides, the people who would go to Ikea won't necessarily be from Somerville; they'll be from everywhere else. What's more, Somerville has a large working class population that doesn't quite fit with your idea of the "zeitgeist." Sure, Somerville has its artists and local music types (I know; I know many in your crowd), but I can't imagine that everyone wants someone's old castoff furniture. I admit that I have culled furniture from the curb, but you know, sometimes you just have to buy new stuff. Eddie's just isn't going to do it for me.

Exhibit B: Tantra's Second Comment, sent after I didn't respond to the first one

Yeah, you're right. I concede that Ikea has some politically dubious merchandise. I bought a wardrobe from Ikea. It was very inexpensive. It was--gasp--made in Sweden, that bastion of sweatshops, inequality, and ill treated labor. Then, horror of horrors, a bookshelf I bought was actually made in Italy, land of extremely quick lunches, forced labor, and badly made mass produced shoes. But that wasn't the worst of it. I almost passed out from shock when I found out some towels were made in that completely for foreign place called los Estados Unidos. Boy, was I disappointed. I'll never shop there again. Boycott all products made los Estados Unidos!

Exhibit C: The Video

Rising from Ruins: Tax Subsidy Animation from Hanson Hosein on Vimeo.

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