Homogenized America

On my travels this summer I had an opportunity to visit with a long time friend Scott. As we enjoyed our lunch he asked if I had observed anything significant on my travels so far. My response came a bit too quickly; “yes, that as I ride/drive into almost every community it looks the same. It has the same fast food, chain restaurants, Dollar Generals, the same big box stores – heck they are even built next to each other in the same order from town to town! The same… everything…its all been homogenized.” Now after a few weeks of thought…I would add… and pasteurized.

I enjoyed lunch with my long time friend Scott before he had to get back to work at the newspaper. I have always enjoyed my conversations with him because he takes the time to research topics before forming an opinion on them. We don’t see eye to eye on a great many different subjects but in the end we remain friends and respect each other.

For those who aren’t in the food industry the process of homogenization is to make everything uniform or similar typically by adding extreme pressure to the molecules to break them down so that they don’t rejoin, the process of pasteurization is to kill pathogens by adding extreme quick heat…basically it leaves the original product looking the same but having significantly less value. Milk for instance – kills off all the healthy enzymes and trace minerals that make raw milk a healthy beverage…but to the regular consumer it looks the same.

Just like our towns…there used to be a local furniture store, hardware store, small grocery, pharmacy, dime store, hair salon, barber, bank, bakery, clothing store, etc. Most of theses places offered different kinds of products from the next town over and most of the business owners were local and knew each other. Now…Target sells furniture, Home Depot sells tools, grocery stores are so big you can get lost in them and the delis all sell factory manufactured salads. Local dime stores have been replaced by franchise owned Dollar Generals, and the local pharmacy has been replaced by a box store that also sells milk and washing detergent (and I don’t think anyone knows who actually owns them!) It’s almost amazing that we don’t all wear exactly the same thing!

The beauty of the wedding industry is that it is the one the last hold outs for small independent businesses. Granted, there are a few chain stores in the jewelry segment, Men’s Warehouse exists, and the big box store for dresses recently filed bankruptcy.

The wedding industry has a 60 Billion dollar economic impact in America alone. Almost every adult in America has either gotten married or has attended a wedding. The average couple utilizes eleven different vendors and spends a little over a year in preparing for this one event.

As much as the mass marketing campaigns of the traditional magazines might want everyone to believe that the industry has been homogenized to look, feel, or be almost exactly like the next … we find that a lot of couples are opting for something a little different, a little more themselves, a little raw and authentic. Our goal is to share the stories with you about those weddings and the vendors who provide creative services to make them distinctive.

Our communities may no longer have that locally owned hardware store where when you walk in the clerk knows your name and is excited to show you what they just got in – the pasteurizing heat killed off a great majority of these entrepreneurs…but the local cake baker – is standing firm and isn’t decorating cakes in any homogenized way.

Cake & cupcakes created by Finishing Touches Wedding Cakes & Sassy Little Cupcake in Marionette WI

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