Loyal to the brand
August 20, 2010
“Whose bread I eat, his song I sing.” – Old German Saying
I have a multitude of faults and there are many things I don’t like about myself. I drive, talk and eat too fast and type too slow. I have no patience, can be hotheaded at times, can’t keep a secret, and I worry constantly about things that will never happen. Just to name a few of my many faults. I could go on and on but I think you get the picture. I am a man of many foibles and frailties but there is one thing that I do like about myself: I am loyal.
It breaks my heart to see companies that I’ve been loyal to go bankrupt or cease to exist. The first vehicle I ever bought was a Chevy because a nearby General Motors dealer bought one of my Grand Champion steers when I was in high school. When I married and moved away my wife and I bought seven Oldsmobiles from the same wonderful man who was extremely loyal to me. We wouldn’t have thought to go anywhere else. So it broke my heart to see GM go broke. If I was in charge of GM I’d go to a different employee parking lot every morning and fire every employee who showed up for work driving anything but a GM vehicle. I think it’s terrible to draw a good paycheck from a company and then not buy the product you helped build.
I banked with the same bank that gave me my first loan as an FFA’er in high school until they were merged out of existence. And to this day I buy Union 76 gasoline exclusively because they gave me a job in the oilfields during the summers so that I could pay my way through college. I am loyal to the publications that run my column and I have never upped my rates since I started writing a weekly column 27 years ago. I think it’s the least I can do for the companies that took a big gamble on me.
We use the same husband and wife mechanic shop to smog test our vehicles because the wife shops in the grocery store where my wife worked for 28 years. I’d feel like a schmuck going anywhere else. And even though the grocery store is smaller, and not as well stocked as the other one in town, we still buy our groceries from the store where my wife worked all those years. They helped support us and how could we not support them in good conscience?
I know this attitude is very much out of style and that many would think I’m a fool. I’m supposed to shop at Wal-Mart, buy a Honda and buy my books online from Amazon. But Wal-Mart never did anything for me, Honda never bought one of my FFA steers like a local Caterpillar dealer did, and Amazon won’t even sell my books any more because I’m not a big enough publisher. (Although they’ll gouge you on a used one.) Why should I give them any of my business?
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It may be irrational these days to remain loyal to brand names when the generic store brands are cheaper, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. I buy Craftsman tools because they are great tools and when one broke a long time ago Sears replaced it, no questions asked, just like they promised they would. I’ll only buy an Apple computer, even if they are more expensive, because they have served me well for over 25 years. I’ve been a lifelong customer of Mott’s Apple Sauce, Justin Boots, A&W Root Beer, J.C. Penneys, and Pendleton Woolen Mills because their products are consistently good and, like the true friends they have become, they have earned my loyalty. Old cowboys called such loyalty “ridin’ for the brand” and, as usual, the cowboys got it right.
Although I may criticize our politicians and assorted alphabet agencies, you will never hear me criticize the United States of America. Some call such love of country “patriotism” but I still think of it as being loyal. I love my country for giving me the freedom and the opportunity to become all that I could be, and I will always be loyal to this country until the day that I die or it goes out of business.
And unless more of us start shopping the same way, I’m sad to say, that’s a very real possibility.