As we are pulled inexorably into an era of economic depression and political chaos, the globally sourced retail supply chains we rely upon will wilt and wither. Many, if not most, of the local retailers and big box stores in our communities will disappear either through an inability to secure globally manufactured product (due to a plethora of factors from political instability to bankruptcy) or a lack of local demand (nobody will be able to afford it). Local strip malls will turn into miniature ghost towns and community life will whither away as people bunker themselves in their homes waiting for the government or Wall Street to rescue them. Unfortunately for them, that rescue won't be coming.
In contrast, retail commercial activity within resilient communities will be growing and in some cases exceeding the activity seen before the depression. The reason? The effort these communities made in building locally viable open markets that promoted the wares of local producers.
In most cases, these open markets started as farmers markets that showcased the products of local organic farmers and gardeners. As the economy worsened the number of farmers/gardeners selling local food increased (many travelling from communities that didn't run a local market), flooding the market with fresh product. With the volume increasing, local market masters (the people in charge of maintaining an open market's viability as a venture) banded together to help smooth the availability of product across different communities and establish simple quality control systems (like Agritrue). Next, given the availability of space in the community centers as branded commercial businesses folded, these farmers markets migrated to the town centers. Over time, the market amenities were improved and interior space was secured to allow all weather operation.
With the establishment of a thriving hub of commerce in the community center, two new innovations were possible:
First, these open markets began to include days to allow local makers to showcase their capabilities in making (to order) everything from flatware to furniture to appliances. While some used traditional methods of craft-work (either by hand or machine) or artistic technique, most of the new makers used inexpensive CNC machines to fabricate a plethora of items locally. People visiting on these market days where able to work directly with the maker to help select, customize or fit the design of the on-line designs for the products they were buying to order. They were also able to help select the locally approved materials that the products were made with depending on local availability and cost.
Second, the food production system was expanded vertically to allow for the creation of processed foods. In other words, the community added a food processing co-op that enabled commercial scale food prep, canning/storage, and professional abattoir (slaughterhouse) services. This commercial level facility allowed local producers to radically increase the number of processed foods made available at the market (or those people in the community that just wanted to DIY lots of food for themselves and their families). They also helped set up some larger farms/orchards on unused/foreclosed land and integrated this farming into the fabric of the community. Soon after that, a community restaurant was opened nearby, to utilize the locally grown products and processed foods. Entertainment was quick to follow, and most market days featured entertainers working the marketplace from when it opened until well into the night.
In time, the open market became a vibrant hub of the resilient community's economy.