Why Buy Local?
In the May/June 2011 edition of Urban Farm Magazine there is an article called "Money Talks". The article highlights seven places where your dollar can make a difference locally.
Okay...I hear you out there. But buying local costs more!!! Yes, it sometimes will. I like to take the approach of buying less and thoughtfully purchasing quality local products at local businesses instead. It requires a change in mind set, but the impact will be felt around your community and you can feel good about each and every purchase.
Austin Independent Business Alliance states that only $13 of every $100 a consumer spends actually has an impact on their local economy. Buy locally and that number changes to $45. Three times the impact.
Buying Locally for Beginners
1. Nurseries - Wonder why your big box plants aren't growing? They probably aren't made for this area! (We love Breed & Co, The Natural Gardener and The Great Outdoors)
2. Bookstores -(We love BookPeople - They'll order just about anything they don't have in stock)
3. Hardware Stores (We love Breed & Co and Zingers)
5. Local Farms (We love Austin Farmers' Market)
6. Cooperative Extension Services (Travis County Extension Service)
7. Time Banks (Check out Austin's Time Exchange Network)
***Another great local business to check out is Bark N Purr if you have pets.
Why should you buy locally?
1. You support local entrepreneurs that are trying to feed their families...just like you are.
2. Local businesses understand the impact of their decisions because they live in the communities they serve. They also tend to be more involved in the community by supporting local events and organizations.
3. Local business employ local residents and many times offer wages that are more fair and benefits that support their employees and their families. Check out Purple Fig Cleaning Company for an example.
4. Many local businesses remodel existing structures rather than building newer ones which has less of an environmental impact and keeps Main Street looking like Main Street.
5. You conserve gas by being able to walk or bike to a local cafe or business or shop at your local farmers' market and some of the products don't have to be shipped from great distances. It saves resources when you buy local products that don't have packaging.
6. Although it may seem like the big box stores have more choice, they often sell what SELLS well. This means that they may not have end to end solutions or something unique to your area. The items you purchase a local store will most likely be unique or even benefit another local business as local businesses tend to sell more local products.
7. You develop relationships with business owners and employees in your area and are usually greeted more warmly than at a big box store where if you are able to make eye contact with the employee it is usually because you are taking too long or annoying them...that is if they have stopped texting long enough to look up. Wheatsville is a great local example of a local business that invests in its community and develops lasting relationships with their customers because they have friendly, helpful employees that stick around. One Christmas I was even able to get a discount on toys at Wanderland when I mentioned that I wanted to buy toys from them, but they didn't have the ones I needed in stock. Not only did they order them for me, but they gave me a 20% discount. It pays to shop locally.
Here are a few tips to get you started.
1. Walk your neighborhood. Meet the business owners and see what they sell. Look for independent business organizations or "shop local" signs. Check with your city's Chamber of Commerce.
2. Buy a Go Local card so that you can received discounts at local stores as well as become familiar with businesses and services near you. For $10 you'll be saving all over town.
3. Buy handmade items from Etsy using the local finder. Support a home business and keep our dollars at home.
4. Read "Made In" labels on all of the products you buy. Try to buy local first or try for something made in your state or in the USA. Despite what you may think, there are actually LOTS of options if you do your research. I even bought a Capel Rug from Back Home Furniture after learning that it was made right here in the USA.
5. Think before you make a purchase. Does this benefit someone in my community? Can I find this business or service locally? Does this restaurant support local farmers? Can I do without this item that is not made locally?