Plaid, chartreuse or aquamarine Friday, just not black, because economic oppression isn’t entitled to its own language.

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“Language is power, life and the instrument of culture, the instrument of domination and liberation”
— Angela Carter, novelist

Plaid Friday still exists.

The name Plaid Friday was conceived from the idea of weaving the individual threads of small businesses together to create a strong fabric that celebrates the diversity and creativity of independent businesses. Plaid Friday is the relaxing and enjoyable alternative to the big box store “Black Friday,” and is designed to promote both local and independently owned businesses during the holidays.

Plaid Friday was conceptualized in Oakland, CA, a city known for strong shop local campaigns. Plaid Friday strives to bring back the days when shopping for friends and family during the holidays was a pleasurable and leisurely activity.

There are many more small independent businesses in New Albany than in 2012, when I wrote the words that follow, way down below on this page.

At the time, some of us were laboring mightily to create an independent business alliance based on principle set forth by organizations like the American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA), the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, and the best local example right across the river: Louisville Independent Business Alliance.

Why? LIBA’s mission statement explains.

The mission of the Louisville Independent Business Alliance (LIBA) is to preserve the unique community character of the Metro Louisville area by promoting locally-owned, independent businesses and to educate citizens on the value of purchasing locally. In order to pursue LIBA’s mission, the organization will focus on:

  • Informing citizens of the value provided by locally owned businesses, including their importance to the local economy, culture, and social fabric. The goal is to encourage area residents to view themselves as citizens — as members of a community rather than merely as consumers.
  • Offering group branding, promotion and advertising to LIBA members to elevate the individual and collective profiles of locally owned businesses in order to provide marketing and exposure advantages chains routinely enjoy.
  • Creating strong relationships with local government and media in order to inform local decision-making and give voice to the locally owned independent business community, and to promote policies that support community-rooted enterprises.

Can locally-owned, independent, small and family-owned businesses compete and remain viable in an economy increasingly rigged to favor corporate players?

It’s a good question, and there are a thousand potential answers, but there is a necessary condition to be fulfilled.

THESE BUSINESSES MUST BE UNIFIED AND THEY MUST ACT IN CONCERT.

We’ve never achieved this in New Albany. We’ve never come close. Independent operators seem to believe that someone else will represent their interests; perhaps local government, or Develop New Albany; maybe the Horseshoe Foundation, or the man in the moon.

Independent local businesses have invested hugely in the city. The scale of their investment dwarfs that of any of the preceding entities, but indies simply do not have clout commensurate with the sheer volume of their investments.

No one else is going to do it for indies. Indies have to do it themselves. Being informed is an absolute prerequisite. Here is what I wrote in 2012.

It’s all about educating consumers, but this year more than ever before, it occurred to me that independent small business owners themselves also are prime beneficiaries of an ongoing educational component of any Buy Local campaign.

We can begin by rejecting alien terminology. Words actually matter. If you are a small indie business owner, or if you support the panoply of indie business concepts, you must recognize that “Black Friday” is adverse terminology. It is degrading materialist Big Box Speak, intended to inculcate a sense of mega-chain empowerment. Consider refraining from its usage next year, and train your employees to think and speak in like fashion.

Eventually, we’ll retrain the nation, but we have to start somewhere: With ourselves. Language is a good start for revolution, don’t you think?

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