One of the best parts of living in the US right now is the ability as a consumer to affect change just by shopping. Or can you? Well that’s what’s on my mind today since I was thinking about the relationship between customers and providers. Have you ever noticed any change in your grocery store based on the way you shop? Perhaps you will once you start looking, so here’s a little bit about how you can make a difference with your wallet!

Ever notice that different grocery stores tend to have different brand selection? I’m not just talking about something simple either, but how you can walk into a store on one side of town and find dozens of types of Asian-style sauces but then only find one or two at a store ten miles way? That’s because the stores cater to the demand of the area, so if it seems that one market is clearly leaning toward preferring Mexican food over another, then that store will gladly stock more foods for making Mexican-style meals.

This is true for anything, no matter how possibly obscure, and knowing it is how you get something you want, though it will take some work. If your local store doesn’t carry a specific product you’re looking for, for the sake of argument let’s say starfruit, then you can try and elicit a change by kindly asking the store manager if they carry the fruit. Specifically ask the store manager, unless the particular section has a manager that specializes in higher-up business. But don’t stop with just you asking. Have friends and family ask as well, spread out over time of course, until the message gets clear: There is a market here for starfruit.

One wallet may not necessarily make a difference, at least not right away, but that doesn’t mean it should stop you from trying. Persistence is a good thing, and showing that you’re willing to shop elsewhere can be powerful, especially if you can convince others to do the same thing. Wal*Mart, considered by many to be a “bad” place to shop, has actually shown in the past that when customers show they want something changed, it will be changed. They realized that there was a huge demand for more organic produce, and as a result they began offering more organic produce, and more specifically organic milk. Enough people showed interest by repeatedly buying one product over the other and now Wal*Mart, one of the biggest companies in the world, has changed its stock to accommodate said customers.

Again, it seems that alone there isn’t a lot of ability to make things instantly shift directions overnight, but we have certainly proved that as a whole, when we stay consistent with a new choice, a company will listen. McDonald’s and many other fast food chains began offering healthier options once enough people showed interest, so what do we want next?

So that’s the question for today: If you had the ability, what would you change? Do you believe that a person’s wallet can affect change or am I just being hopelessly optimistic about a large group of people? Sound off in the comments and let’s hear about it!