Forget Pepsi -- Pass the Moxie Original Elixir

The politics of pop and one man's lip-smacking soda stand

| Utne Reader May / June 2007

Ever found yourself bitching about the cable company's decision to jack its rates simply because it could? Blood ever boiled at the thought of major labels keeping indie musicians down? Thrown your hands up in despair at the piss-poor choices on the ballot for any given American political office?

Take heart, comrades: John Nese is here to lead the revolution.

The owner of Galco's Soda Pop Stop in Los Angeles' Highland Park, John trades in hard-to-find (if not impossible-to-find) soda, carrying over 500 varieties. I walked into his store assuming I'd be writing a fluff piece about fizzy sugar water, but I walked out with a vivid illustration of corporate oppression and the effect it has on every aspect of our lives.

I start by asking John, 'Why soda?' He answers with a smile: 'I got mad.'

John's story is an American fable. He inherited the family grocery business from his father but found his store struggling to compete with the price clubs and supermarket chains. He started carrying a few rare varieties of soda just to keep the business afloat.

Then one day a Pepsi representative came in to convince him to stock the brand. At the price the rep was offering (remember: no bulk discount for a small shop), John would have had to charge more than the chain store down the street. So he told the rep he'd rather refer customers to the chain.

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