I Do My Part to Support Small Business By Only Shoplifting Local

As brick and mortar small businesses become increasingly fragile in our modern world, it feels like the responsibility to nurture these beloved mom and pop shops falls on us, individual consumers. That’s why, over the past year, I have become extremely conscientious about exclusively shoplifting local. 

Personally, I love to see my actions have a direct impact on my community. When I shoplift, it feels much more rewarding to know that a store’s margins are already super tight. I love feeling that my theft will have a tangible effect on the business owners and, depending on store policy, maybe even on the cashier’s take-home pay. You just don’t get that same personal experience at a big box store. 

It warms my heart that my local shop owners know me by name. It’s an added bonus that they know me by my face too, which is evident because a grainy black and white photo of my face from security camera footage has been printed out and taped behind the register. Aww, I remember stealing that necklace. It’s such a fun memory, and it means so much to me that they care enough to commemorate it in their storefront.

Sure, mega chains like Walmart and Target might present more convenient options for most shoplifters. If you’re in the mood to nick some groceries AND office supplies AND electronics, for instance, it’s no problem—you can do it all at once. Plus, since those types of stores experience theft all the time, they build it into their projections and allow a lot of it to go unpunished. They are big enough to hire entire “loss prevention” departments, where store policies are often so hands-off that it benefits the shoplifter. If you’re still shoplifting at chain stores, ask yourself: do you really want to be complicit in that sort of watered-down, structural bureaucracy? Or do you want to return to the core essence of what you seek in a shoplifting experience to begin with: the pure act of taking something without paying for it, and royally screwing someone else over?

The way I see it, I don’t want to be just another number in a string of anonymous statistics. I want to be seen as a full person, with a full (and growing) criminal record. If you, like me, have the privilege of being able to shoplift local, I highly encourage you to do so. Trust me, you’ll find it much more rewarding.

I don’t mean to sound too preachy, but let me put it this way: over the past year alone, I have shoplifted just about every week. And not once have I even stepped foot inside a chain store. How many people can say the same? 

Mary Gulino
Author: Mary Gulino
Mary is an LA-based writer from New Jersey whose work can be seen online and on TV (unless you count streaming platforms as online, in which case, it's all online). She got glasses when she was two, and would love to talk optometry sometime.