Cooperative Economics can be defined as
“…local people cooperating with each other to provide for the essentials of living.” The essentials of living could include food, clothes, housing, education and entertainment”
LaDonna Redmond, for the Austin Weekly News
Ms. Redmond’s definition is clear and actionable – and as the principle of Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics) is the one we are concentrating on today, it provides a very nice framework for encouraging positive action on behalf of not just your community, but yourself as well.
Since this blog is about self-esteem, self-empowerment and Loving your Reflection, let’s take a look at how Cooperative Economics might support that purpose. When you recieve compliments or appreciation, you are affirmed – valued, and you feel good about the person or situation that provided the compliment. Patronizing local businesses on a repeated basis is a great way to serve two purposes – the principle of Ujamaa, Cooperative Economics, and the desire to improve one’s self-esteem and self-confidence.
What better way to boost your self-esteem than by making a contribution? By patronizing small and local businesses, you are helping out your community in multiple significant ways. The entrepreneur / manager of the establishment you patronize will prosper as a result of your financial investment – and yes, it’s a financial investment whenever you purchase something. Why spend your hard-earned dollars in a store where you are nothing more than a number or a pile of cash?
Local small business owners and entrepreneurs realize that you have many many choice of where to spend your dollars, and by practicing the principle of Ujamaa – cooperative economics – you are helping to support their dream. In order to keep you coming back as a customer, they will most likely pay a different kind of attention to you. They may engage you in conversation, ask your name, and if you become a regular customer, probably call you by name.
Being a part of something positive and affirming – like supporting a small or local business – is a great way to boost your self-esteem and take the focus off of you. When you’ve gotten used to putting yourself on the back burner, so to speak, you also get used to people either ignoring or ‘glossing over’ your accomplishments and your contributions. By making yourself known to small and local business owners, and by supporting their establishments, you can make a positive difference for them and become a part of something great.
I shop at a local Payless shoe store quite often – I like their prices, and the fact that for quite some time, they were one of the few places that offered a size 12 shoe when I needed them. Since my weight loss, my shoe size has decreased, but they are still one of the best places to find shoes in a size larger than a 10. I have now started ordering items that are unavailable in the retail stores from the company’s website. When I do order items, they are shipped to my local store at no charge, and I’m sent an email as to when they are ready for pick up. When I go into the store, I’m treated like a bit of a celebrity – all the staff know my name, and always want to see what I’ve ordered because they don’t recieve all of the merchandise offered by the company in their store.
It makes me feel good that they are interested in what I order, that they compliment me on my taste, and talk about me positively to other customers as an example of what they can also do. It’s one of the reasons I keep going back – because I like the way I’m treated there. their compliments enhance and re-affirm my self-confidence and self-esteem, and I’m happy to return the favor by recommending their store and the ordering process to others. In this case, Cooperative Economics is not only helping the store to stay active and viable, it is also helping me retain my positive outlook.
Are there stores, restaurants or other businesses in your local community that you have consistently positive interactions with? Why not practice Cooperative Economics and patronize those places that enhance your self-esteem and self-confidence in addition to providing goods and services you need? It creates a win-win situation for everyone concerned.