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Why is Portland simultaneously cheering IKEA and booing WalMart?

How Does Portland Spell Hypocrite? I K E A

blog posting:
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Where are the protests? Where are the community outreach meetings? Where is the permit negotiation and design review? Nope, somehow IKEA is buddy-buddy with the PDC.

Under the criteria of why WalMart is bad for a city, IKEA is just as bad. They may pay more and seek "sustainable" practices in the development of their low cost products BUT: they have a huge traffic impact, reverse shopping patterns away from local furniture resellers, manufacture in China, displace local value-added businesses, place an emphasis on disposable possessions, and take up large chunks of urban space. Who cares if they shave off a bigger sliver of the spoils for their employees. IKEA is a suburban car-culture oriented business that just happens to appeal to the condo-set.

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What do you think?

same reason Democraps said Vote Kerry and don't waste on Nader '04 26.Nov.2005 14:38



I do, I do. 26.Nov.2005 14:59


Who cares if they shave off a bigger sliver of the spoils for their employees?
I do.

Hipsters like Ikea 26.Nov.2005 16:14

What can I say?

Hipsters like Ikea, and don't like walmart. On the plus side, the hipsters won't drive to seattle purely to go to Ikea anymore, and the walmart consumers will go to target instead. Agreeably, neither is a good or necessary store, but what chain store is? If the workers get paid slightly better, that's good, but until we make or own furniture, et al. and become responsible to ourselves, complaining is doing little. I don't see how getting outraged over one store coming in and shopping at another one helps.

But please, if you want to put your energy into stopping Ikea, go ahead, no harm done at least.

Thanks for raising this major point 26.Nov.2005 16:26

How about calling on anti-Walmarters to protest?

It doesn't matter what the veneer is that the big corporations put on nor does it matter what shape their institutions take on: bottom line is that they rape and pillage local and international communities. Their motives are the same and their concern for sustainability is all greenwash. If their purpose is to get people to continue overpopulating and overconsuming, which it is, then they are just as bad as Walmart. They suck money instantly away from the community and suck natural resources, upon which we depend for our survival, away from the Earth, so that a very small minority of managers and stockholders can make it obscenely rich. How about a protest of IKEA? Rally the anti-Walmarters out, see how well they respond.

why stop there? 26.Nov.2005 17:17


Why stop with Ikea? How about a general protest of all stores whatever their 'progressive' stances? E.g. REI, et al.

Bottom line, if you're not growing your own carrots and weaving your own clothes you are KILLING THE EARTH!

If not _____ then ______? 26.Nov.2005 17:48

anarcho redneck

Virtually all things affordable are made outside of the US. Most people cannot afford to buy artisan furniture or antiques. Much used stuff is total crap, and is merely supporting an aftermarket of things made in China etc. So what is the alternative for broke folks? Usually, like their counterparts who make this stuff, is to orgaize into unions. Guilty liberalism never got anyone a dime.

WHY STOP THERE?!?!?! 27.Nov.2005 00:37

circle A

Local biz brings a much larger amount of profits to local people in proportion to these stores (a pretty euphemism for corporations). Local people and biz are much easier to be held accountable. But, hey, if you love that monoculturalistic influence of even the REI's, Ikea's who still displace local shops, local people, people ground into this community, who have been around for years, who function on a whole more supportive of their community than these box stores, selling there progressive bullshit images so you can feel good about buying your god damn skis, bikes, hiking equipment whatever there... that bs your pushing about growing your own food and knitting your clothes is a false dichotomy, but autonomy IS an issue here, either way local stores are better for the community in so many more ways.
On the REI note, I have watched them already run out some of the great smaller shops in the Portland area, for local shops (bike, Ski/Board, Hiking) to compete is often suicide for there own bottom line. Not to mention that the REI's, IKEA's and Walmarts have sub par levels of knowledgable, skilled employees you regularly find in the local shops. Pretty much, Chakrapani, you can take your ill-informed, quasi-liberal, hipster, "Whatever" bullshit and fuck off.

The HIGH Cost of CHEAP Chinese Crap 27.Nov.2005 09:33


Crap shipped in from China and elsewhere is cheaper because it is highly subsidized both locally and nationally with YOUR tax dollar and your loved ones' or friends' lives. We all know how highly subsidized oil is, which is needed to ship the stuff. Then there are the Ports, such as the Port of Portland, which are operated by the local governments and not by any means fully funded by the shipping companies and manufacturers. Then there is the Columbia River itself, which has been dredged numerous times, with public money, so that ships can make it in to the Port here. Of course, the dredging has caused the river's aqueous life populations to sharply decline and has created dangerous conditions for small fishing vessels on the ocean outside the Columbia's mouth. The pollution from the ships we all pay for. Next come the costs we fork out for the trucks to move the crap from the ports to the big boxes. What this means is that what economists traditionally have labeled as "comparative advantage"--the production of goods in a particular place besides where they are consumed--no longer exists except for with a very few amount of items.

If we were to eliminate all the subsidies or locally succeed in having the price tags reflect these costs, then suddenly products grown, manufactured and distributed locally through small locally-owned, worker-owned shops would actually be a lot, lot cheaper. Imagine that. The only things that we would be shipping are those things that we cannot grow locally.

So when Bill Wyatt, Executive Director of the Port of Portland, stands up before the City Club and tells his fairy tale about how vital it is that we dredge the Columbia once again, we can tell him to shove it because he is only serving a small fraction of the local populace, the already wealthy. It's always the same old tired line they feed us and which so many of us quietly ingest without thought: we need to ship more crap into Portland because we need to bring more people here to help us consume more crap because if we don't the economy will suffer. No, the economy is suffering because of all the crap you are shipping in here, because of the population growth, because of the increase in crap that we are consuming here. The more we ship in, the more our population grows, the more our consumption grows, the more Oregon and the Pacific Northwest dies, the more the planet dies. We own the choice. Which will it be?

HUGE Difference 27.Nov.2005 09:43


1) IKEA has not been nearly as predatory as Wal-Mart, nor could it be, due to its business model.

2) IKEA comes from very liberal Scandinavia and not the heart of monopoly Republicanism

3) IKEA does not pander to the dark side of capitalism, which is the exploitation of people who live on subsistance wages. The poor who are trying to raise kids on $20K a year have little choice but to shop at Wal-Mart just to buy in bulk and survive. Wal-Mart in that respect serves a very sinister role for the U.S. economy and its current policies.

4) IKEA buys industrial designs that have some artistic value, rather than just being an ugly piece of particle boards thrown together to make a "desk" or "bookshelf" or whatever.

5) IKEA doesn't impact as many businesses. A single Wal-Mart puts pressure on grocery stores, electronics dealers, auto shops, clothing dealers, hardware stores, etc.

6) IKEA has not aggressively suppressed equal opportunity advancement for minorities or women, exploited illegal immigrants, etc.

7) IKEA may actually hurt Wal-Marts bottom line, because it offers some products for the home that are competitively priced with Wal-Mart but actually affords some aestetic value.

People may not like big box retailers, but the concept itself is not illegal and has never been illegal in the U.S. Traffic impact and other negative externalities can be mitigated through an active community and responsive zoning laws. Wal-Mart, on the other hand, probably does meet the criteria that The Sherman Act was passed to address--namely, anti-competitive behavior that damages society as a whole. That our fascist, Republican-led government has done nothing to address this is an outrage.

Wall-Mart, Chevron-Texaco, SBC-ATT, etc., are a real problem people should be more concerned about, because consolidation in these industries is reaching a point at which competition is being affected, society is suffering, and yet government seems totally in lock-step with monopoly-capitalism.

Circle A = Circle K(tm) 27.Nov.2005 13:25


"that bs your pushing about growing your own food and knitting your clothes is a false dichotomy, but autonomy IS an issue here, either way local stores are better for the community in so many more ways."

Perhaps I should have also mentioned that supporting local co-ops is also acceptable. However, "local stores" are capitalism incarnate and how nice of Circle K(tm) to defend the little capitalists. Only by growing our own food, making our own clothes, or reciprocating services in a local co-op will we ever be free.

My Philosophy is... 27.Nov.2005 15:05


...to buy and support local. Yes, I have my own vegetable garden, but one can only be so self sufficient in an urban area unless you plan on shooting ducks at Sauvie Island, pick mushrooms and make your own form of transportation. Believe me, I've tried that route. It's a good education and everyone should do that to the extent they can. However, more realistically, avoid the chain stores. I avoid Applebees, Home Depot, MacDonalds, Blockbuster et al. I will go to Burgerville, local bike and running stores and markets as much as possible. I am surrounded by people who can't wait for the next national chain to descend upon Portland. Tried some faux Italian chain restaurant downtown. Yuck, a disgrace to any self respecting Italian.

Consumer Culture will not destroy capitalism 28.Nov.2005 23:24

Workingclass Anarchist

Who says Ikea is not bad?

I'll buy my sweatshop products at BiMart. No, its not a coop or collective, but at least its employee owned.

Living in out current world, the working class can not refrain from buying many essential items that come from sweatshop. While I try to minimize the damage as much as possible, the working class can not cannot afford to be "pure". In a system where money equals speech, the rich have all the voice.

We cannot destroy capitalism purely through boycots. We must raise the level of resistance.

I see a lot of bad assumptions here 29.Nov.2005 14:27

buy local and stuff

It seems a lot of people think that we must all live like ancient cave-dwellers to make a difference, that nobody should ever focus on an issue if there is a "more important" one to work on, and even that used stuff is "crap".

Might I suggest that if everybody shopped locally, all of their money would circulate in the local economy, therefore there would be a higher standard of living for everyone and then locally-made, high-quality items would be affordable. The reason we find US-made stuff too expensive is that we send most of our money, enriching other countries and weakening our own.

Used stuff is not always "crap". This summer I picked up a yard-sale dresser for $35, it's solid walnut and will likely outlast anything sold new today for under $200. The last pan I got was from a free box, after rubbing off the built-up charcoal with some baking soda and diligence, it looks much like a new pan and will work better than all but the most expensive new ones.

"the working class can not refrain from buying many essential items that come from sweatshop"... exactly what items are you referring to? Most people have way more stuff than they need, regardless of their economic situation. If I don't need to buy foreign-made, sweatshop items EVER, and I have almost no money at all, then what circumstances are you referring to?

groan 20.Mar.2007 22:08

you have to admit, their stuff is pretty cute...

It would be really interesting if in order to post a comment you had to exclose your own personal earnings and assets and family economic background. I have a feeling that those of us who haven't experienced what it feels like to be poor with no visible way out would be the ones spouting the most idealistic and unrealistic rhetoric. What about the Pearl district? NW 23? Poor folks should get to buy pretty things just like everyone else. Five years from now, when you're bored of being political, half of you will probly have retired your bikes and traded them for expensive hybrid cars and your hip Alberta apartment for a ranch-style in Beaverton. I bet you'll even drive those oh-so eco friendly cars to IKEA to get yourself some trendy junk for your new suburban paradise, safe from all the poor folks in the city. Give it a rest.