Strictly Business: Taking the high road for Mom

By Cami Joner, Columbian retail & real estate reporter

Published:

 

If you are a mom and you're reading this column over breakfast in bed, happy Mother's Day.

No doubt the kids and spouse will shower you with the attention you deserve for all that you do. They'll likely spend quite a bit of money, too, following an American tradition that places Mother's Day as the fourth-biggest spending season behind Christmas, Back-to-School and Valentine's.

Oh sure, all the purchases are good for our struggling economy. But the history of Mother's Day would be better served if those gifts came from a conscientious business. After all, Mother's Day was launched on higher principles than maximizing profit.

In fact, I found out through a Google search that the holiday dates back to 1858 when a young Appalachian homemaker named Anna Jarvis launched "Mother's Work Days" to inform mothers about preventing deaths through sanitation measures, says the National Women's History Project.

Later on in 1872, Boston poet, pacifist and women's suffragist Julia Ward Howe proclaimed Mother's Day should be set aside for women all over the world to discuss world peace.

These were lofty goals started by women who recognized their common maternal link. Now we share an even more powerful connection along with something even more influential — our buying power.

Women are earning, spending, and influencing spending at a greater rate than ever before, according to TheNextWeb.Com, which reported that women accounted for $7 trillion in consumer and business spending in the United States in 2012. Over the next decade, women are expected to control two-thirds of consumer wealth, make or influence 85 percent of all purchasing decisions and purchase more than 50 percent of traditional male products.Wow, that sure gives moms a chance to institute change.

Coincidently, when Anna Jarvis died in 1905, her daughter, also named Anna, lobbied Congress to pass a Mother's Day resolution in honor of her mother. After nine years of campaigning, a bill was signed by President Woodrow Wilson in 1914, recognizing Mother's Day as a national holiday.

But Anna Jarvis grew to loathe the idea of Mother's Day as a commercial gold mine for florists and greeting card companies, according to the National Geographic Daily News. Jarvis dedicated her latter years to returning Mother's Day to its humble roots. Her attempts failed, and Jarvis died penniless in a sanitarium in 1948.

If nothing else, I think we mothers of today owe this founder of Mother's Day a vow, promising we will do a bit more research on the products we're buying and the companies that make them. And while we're at it, let's vow to look for manufacturers who show awareness of how their actions and business practices benefit both human beings and the environment.

If this sounds like a winner to all you kids and spouses out there, you are more than welcome to join in the fun. Start by tracking corporate websites, which show their community involvement, where and how the products are made and how the company treats employees.

Yes, fellow moms, we finally can control the world (as if we haven't been doing so all along).

Cami Joner is a Columbian business reporter. 360-735-4532, http://twitter.com/camijoner, http://www.columbian.com/weblogs/strictly-business, or cami.joner@columbian.com