I saw this article the other day, and I couldn’t stop thinking about whether (or how) the results applied to me. The authors of the study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology write:
Residential mobility, the very factor that allows Americans to pursue their individual desires, ironically facilitates the uniformity of American landscapes.
They found that cities with a highly mobile population had more chain stores, and that students who have moved a lot prefer national chains. Honestly, I have some issues with the series of studies, particularly confounding variables, the scenarios, small sample size, and generalizing from college students. But I still wondered about how my choices might fit into the authors’ theory.
I definitely am very mobile so I started thinking through where I shop and eat and how my dollars contribute to the American (and other countries’) landscape.
Eating is the easier category for me. I figured that I probably eat at independently owned restaurants about 9 times out of 10. I know that plenty of cognitive impairment might affect that figure so I pulled up my online account, which showed that I was very close. It’s more like 8.5 out of 10 restaurants. (An aside, it was interesting to see what chain restaurants I go to even though there weren’t many repeats in the past few months. They included Panera, Chipotle, Au Bon Pain, Corner Bakery, Subway, and In-n-Out. There’s clearly a trend that when we decide to have soup and sandwiches we go to chain restaurants. Almost all ethnic food, which is mostly what we eat when going out because it’s dishes that I can’t (or won’t) cook, is from independent restaurants.)
Shopping is another matter.
For clothes and household items, I stick fairly closely to thrift stores or online, and in an emergency or for something I can’t find elsewhere, I go to Wal-Mart followed by Target. Part of this is because of cost and the rest is convenience.
As for groceries, it varies quite a bit. I pick up basic items from Wal-Mart, followed by Trader Joes, farmer’s markets, and ethnic stores. Each week varies depending on what I need and what part of town I’m in.
I will say, along these same lines, that upon moving to a new place like LA, I am much more likely to eat somewhere new while shop somewhere I know.