“Buy Local.” I’ve seen this slogan on storefront signs and bumper stickers all over the country. But what does it really mean? Why should I spend a few extra dollars or do a little extra legwork to find a product in a store in my local town when I could point-and-click and have it delivered to my doorstep?
Buying locally is more than just a feel-good way to support your local community. Research has found that the fate of a community’s economy can be profoundly impacted when money is kept in town. You’re not just supporting your neighbor or friend; you are supporting the entire infrastructure of your community – your police officers, parks, schools, firefighters, etc. –when you spend your money in your local town. And unlike purchases made at big-box stores, when you buy a product locally you are also supporting the local community members –the store employees, cleaning agencies, accountants, etc. --that work at or for that store.
The key to buying local is to get a better understanding of what products are available right in your local community. That’s the biggest problem in my hometown. There are lots of awesome stores, but many of them sell such a wide variety of products that you’re never quite sure what they have in stock at any given time.
So if you really want to “Buy Local,” you need to get a better idea of what you can purchase locally. And then rethink how you shop so that you hit local stores first before big-box or online stores. Last year, I took a buy local challenge in my hometown. And even though the challenge itself only lasted a few months, it really changed the way I shopped year-round.
With the holiday season right around the corner, it’s as good a time as any to challenge yourself to buy locally and put your money where your mouth is in terms of going green. I'm going to challenge myself to once again buy local for everything from school supplies to holiday gifts over the next few months. Care to join me? It would be interesting to note the differences and similarities that "buying local" entails in each area.
Do you find it easy or difficult to “Buy Local” in your community?