Features

From little acorns

"From little acorns" Continued...

Issue: "Save our cities," April 19, 2008

Royal Oak is not immune to the effects of Michigan's troubled economy, but it's holding its own.

Like a bad neighbor

In 2006 Americans took note of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez's visit to the United Nations, during which he called President Bush "the devil." The fallout was swift: American consumers began boycotting Venezuelan-owned Citgo gas. The 7-11 chain of stores ended its long-term contract with Citgo, and sales suffered at independent Citgo dealers. The Knoxville News Sentinel website reported recently that some dealers in Tennessee saw sales drop 30 percent last year-and those dealers are now switching to other suppliers. One dealer hung banners announcing his switch to "American-owned" Marathon and declared, on a lighted sign visible for a long way, "Hugo Chavez you are out of here."

Citgo's public-relations people are trying to strike back by emphasizing the company's roots: "You know us-we're CITGO, an American icon." They say, "We're your neighbor. Your partner in business. A sponsor of the sports and charity events that pick you up and give life meaning." But as long as Hugo Chavez keeps sticking his finger in America's eye, it's unlikely that consumers will consider the company a "neighbor."

Virtual word of mouth

What book lover wouldn't want book recommendations from readers with similar taste? Book social networking sites allow readers to catalogue their collections online and peek at the collections of others. You can find out what your "friends" are reading and see how they rate books you've considered reading. LibraryThing (LibraryThing.com) boasts that members have catalogued over 25 million books, making it one of the largest sites. Shelfari (shelfari.com) and goodreads (goodreads.com) both allow authors to set up pages and connect to old and potential fans through the website.

Susan Olasky
Susan Olasky

Susan pens book reviews and other articles for WORLD as a senior writer and has authored eight historical novels for children. Susan and her husband Marvin live in Asheville, N.C. Follow Susan on Twitter @susanolasky.

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