Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

Will the (Small-Mart) Revolution overtake Ann Arbor?

8. November 2006 • Chuck Warpehoski
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As a lead-up to Buy Local Week (December 4-10), Washtenaw County’s Think Local First is hosting Michael H. Shuman on Wednesday, November 15th at Courthouse Square Ballroom (100 S. Fourth Avenue, 2nd Floor). Doors open at 6pm for food, mingling, and buy-local merchandise; Shuman’s talk begins at 7pm.

He’ll be speaking about his new book The Small-Mart Revolution.

Will the small-mart revolution save downtown Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti? Will it be televised—or podcast? Whose backs will be against the wall?

Now, hearing the talk about the revolution has a price tag: $20 general admission, $15 for Think Local First members and for students, or $22 at the door. But for those in the vanguard, I hear you might be able to get in free as a volunteer. Check out Think Local First for details.



  1. (Chuck: I edited to add the event start time.)


       —Murph    Nov. 8 '06 - 11:50PM    #
  2. Thanks for posting this. This event would probably be of interest to people who were interested in the Calthorpe Report. In talks I’ve seen him give, Michael Shuman speaks about the ways in which locally-owned businesses are already competitive with national/ multi-national businesses, and he follows it up with information about innovative strategies that communities, individuals, and business owners can use to localize their economies.


       —Lisa    Nov. 9 '06 - 12:04AM    #
  3. Boy, this one can easily get under my skin. This guy is coming here to stump for his book and I have to pay for the privilege of hearing him? It is not as if he is a consultant hired to offer his professional opinion, he is selling books; we can read the book and know his position. Yes, I agree completely with the concept; I don’t just ‘*think*’ local first, I ‘*spend*’ local first. My weekends are always filled with the multiple stops it takes to meet my needs at local shops in and around the AA downtown area. I also consider downtown businesses before anything else when it comes to gifts, dining, entertainment as well as professional contacts.

    But for me to hear this guy with my spouse would cost me $40. For a family of 4, say, who want to expose their children to a discussion about why people should shop downtown and shake off all that national advertising they are assaulted with on the television, can pay $80! I cannot eat $20 worth of appetizers without embarrassing myself, so who is profiting from this? Where is that money going?


       —abc    Nov. 9 '06 - 03:10PM    #
  4. Does the admission price include an autographed copy of the book? If not, where does all that money go?


       —Emily    Nov. 9 '06 - 03:20PM    #
  5. Shuman is a speaker in demand. His time is valuable and he doesn’t live here, so he gets an opportunity to sell his books in person and maybe his transportation and lodging is covered. Lisa might clarify that (but she may be busy at the moment.)

    This is a fundraiser for a local nonprofit. The Ecology Center just had William McDonough in to speak and charged $100 to hear him. (I passed.) If you join LEN (a worthwhile community investment) you can get the tickets for $15 in advance (the savings might cover a family membership) and enjoy other benefits throughout the year. Or just volunteer and get in free (assuming Chuck is correct.) Again, Lisa can give details (after she finishes all the details of pulling together a big community event largely by herself.)

    Shuman’s analysis is much more refined than just buying local, abc. If you don’t attend, please do read Going Local and/or The Small-Mart Revolution. You can get them from the library after I’m done with them. :-)


       —Steve Bean    Nov. 9 '06 - 03:53PM    #
  6. “Shuman is a speaker in demand. His time is valuable and he doesn’t live here, so he gets an opportunity to sell his books in person and maybe his transportation and lodging is covered.” You are speculating (except for where he lives), I could have done that.

    He is coming to AA to promote himself and his book. When he sells books he makes money. He is coming here because it will make him money; selling books is his job (at least one of them). I am not speculating.

    If Shuman’s analysis is not tailored to AA, and his specific audience, I don’t see why he needs to get paid any more than the royalties he is already due. His traveling to different venues is part of the marketing campaign already figured into the price of the book. I have seen many, many authors speak and never paid for the privilege. The flyer simply says he is coming here to “speak[ing] about his new book”.


       —abc    Nov. 9 '06 - 05:27PM    #
  7. I’ve organized nonprofit speaking tours both as a host and a tour organizer, and there has always been a fee for the host community to book a speaker—even if the speaker has a book or two published. After all, you’ve got to sell a lot of books just to cover the cost of a plane ticket.

    I’m a big fan of what Think Local First is doing, and I’m happy to support their work. I want them to be successful. That’s why I’m signed up to volunteer.

    I’ve heard many speaker/authors who bring a passion and nuance to their speaking that is different than what you read in their books. And after hearing Lisa rave about Michael for about 3 years now, I’m really looking forward to hearing what he has to say in person.


       —Chuck Warpehoski    Nov. 9 '06 - 07:00PM    #
  8. Sheesh. If it’s not worth it to you, don’t buy a ticket. Do we have to make this some sort of judgement on the moral fiber of Schuman or Think Local First?

    After all, U2 goes on tour to sell albums, not to make money off the tour – but that doesn’t mean their tickets don’t cost 85 bucks a pop. And, if this is intended to be a fundraiser for TLF, it’s by far the cheapest fundraiser event ticket I’ve been asked to consider in quite some time.

    Why the ire?


       —Murph    Nov. 9 '06 - 07:01PM    #
  9. Hi Folks –

    Just to clarify, Michael is coming specifically as a fundraiser and community education event for our nonprofit, not to promote his book (I suppose he could have asked to speak at Shaman Drum or somewhere else if he was just interested in book promotion). While he’s not at the William McDonough level of well-known, he is one of the foremost speakers, writers, and economists in the country who speak about what communities can do to relocalize their economies.

    (I say fundraiser, but by the time we pay for his transportation and lodging, honorarium, space rental, posters, plates, etc. for the event, we’ll probably be just above break-even. We’re hosting him mainly because it’s a good way to engage and educate our community and local businesses, not as a way to raise money.)

    And actually, Michael is a consultant as well if you’d be interested in hiring him. :) Many communities have engaged him to do an analysis of their community’s “economic leakages” – basically, analyzing what a community is currently buying from outstate/outcountry sources that they could produce themselves, and the economic impact of doing so. He’ll be referencing those studies on Wednesday as well.


       —Lisa    Nov. 9 '06 - 09:47PM    #
  10. Thank you Lisa. I’m the one who started the fuss but no where does anything say fundraiser and I leapt to the conclusion that this was just one of many stops to stump a book. I figured he’d be interviewed by the local NPR this week, and at Borders on the weekend. I am sorry but it sure sounded like the normal marketing campaign for a new book. I stand corrected.


       —abc    Nov. 9 '06 - 11:08PM    #