A couple of weeks ago, I walked into a Target for the first time in years — and felt disoriented and overwhelmed. In a store so big, how do you find anything? Well, one family has decided to forego the strange sensations of shopping at big box stores for a whole year. The Levitch family from Scottsdale, Ariz., will buy only from local stores and eateries in 2011 — and the family is documenting the experience at One Local Family.

Why? “Call us nutty, but we’re tired of spending our weekends navigating the parking lot of Costco and buying poor quality clothing at Old Navy” writes one family member. Basically, the family of four describes a desire to branch out beyond the usual Starbucks drinks and Marshalls outfits to discover the unique indie stores around them — and support the ones they like so the local faves don’t go out of business.

That means the Levitch family’s goals are somewhat different from environmentalists who often embrace the buy local mantra primarily as a way of reducing transportation miles, promoting walkable communities of smaller independent shops, and other green goals. Sure, the Levitches talk about shopping at farmers markets — but they also exult their discovery of a “local” gas station.

Still, there are many green aspects to the family’s mission. Sierra Club’s The Green Life notes that the Levitch family is eating less Taco Bell and more fresh local food: “The Levitches found a farm a couple of miles from their home that raises chickens and sells fresh eggs. They’ve become regulars at farmers markets, and made friends by getting to know local business owners.”

Plus, the Levitches are also questioning other aspects of their consumer-culture driven lifestyle — like the ownership of not one, not 10, but 23 white tank tops, all from Old Navy! Writes mom Julie Levitch:

How did this happen? Well, I’ll tell you how. Here’s the familiar scenario. I go to the strip mall. In my case, it was the Promenade at Frank Lloyd Wright and Scottsdale Road. I get what I need and then decide to pop into Old Navy just to browse. I see the new white T-shirts stacked on a table with a big sign that says 2 for $10. I say to myself, “Hmmm. That’s a good deal.” Then, I buy two to add to my collection. And, so it goes… Perhaps, the epiphany is that shopping local, even if I spend more on one item, will save me big $$ in the long run because I won’t be buying just to take advantage of a “bargain.”
Have you ever wasted good money so you wouldn’t miss a bargain? Then you’ve felt Julie’s pain. Waste less and get inspired to keep your dollars in the local economy by reading the One Local Family blog.

MNN homepage photo: WoodenDinosaur/iStockphoto

A year of buying local
A family in Scottsdale, Arizona, has made a pledge to shop and dine only at local establishments in 2011.