Wednesday, November 2, 2011

How Small Businesses Are Dealing with the Strike

By Ellen Cushing
Wed, Nov 2, 2011 at 1:53 PM

Oakland's general strike is all about slowing down big corporations — but what about Oakland's vast number of small, local, independently-owned, totally-not-evil businesses? As the Old Oakland Business Association said in a recent press release, small businesses "invest in our communities, circulate our dollars to local vendors and create jobs. We are the 99 percent." And as such, they're in a tough spot: "Most small businesses simply cannot afford to close their doors and join the general strike and mass day of action," the release said — and they have a point, seeing as profit margins tend to be small for these guys, and largely because of competition from those big megacorporations. As Awaken Cafe tweeted last week: Should local, indie biz strike? One hand: we're antidote to capitalist machine. Other: want 2 be supportive." Ultimately, they decided to stay open, donate 20 percent of their profits from the day to local charities, and act as a meeting place for protesters, and Old Oakland businesses — including Liege, Pacific Brewing Co., Cock-a-Doodle Cafe, and the Trappist — will be cash-only all day, in a gesture of protest against big banks.

Elsewhere, other small businesses are finding ways to stay open and support the strike at the same time: Cafe Gabriela, for example, will be donating food, closing early so employees can head to the General Assembly at 6, and handing flyers out about the strike. Farley's East, for example, will be selling coffee for 99 cents all day, in honor of the 99 percent, and Disco Volante is offering "discounted prices and cheap food with no cover" in solidarity with the strike. And meanwhile, Pretty Penny, Bank of Alameda, Bar Dogwood, the Grand Lake Theater and Coffeeshop Blue Sky have opted to close for the day.

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