I do try to “buy local” – I want to support the local community, restaurants, farms and shops. Not just because it is convenient or they have the best price (they often don’t), but because I like to get to know the people who are running the business. Do their kids go to my kids school? Do they use the same accountant we use? Will they be at the next business development meeting with me – thinking about what is next for the town.
Buying local may mean shopping from the complete and utter entrepreneur who came up with their idea wholly on their own, but also may mean the franchised owner of the local deli, fitness studio, nail / hair salon or egads, dare I say it, gas station!
It also may mean buying from Best Buy, Target, Lowe’s, Starbucks or Chipotle. All of these bigger retailers – whether they are franchised, own all of their own stores, or are a mix of the two – are still local.
Many will say, “Sacrilege Dawn, how dare you say that the franchise company is the same as the single entrepreneurial shop owner?” Ok, they are and they aren’t… but I have to defend this from the true meaning of the word local. Even if the local spot is a brand that can be had in most any town – yes, even in Pocomoke City MD where there IS a Walmart! – it is still LOCAL.
Local people work there, they buy supplies from a local service, the service company has a local route driver who drives their truck through town, fills up their tank at the local gas station, buys a cup of coffee and a doughnut from the local Dunkin’ or coffee shop. They pay local taxes that support the fire company, police department, roads and schools. It’s all local.
Maybe the big retailer does sell something made in another country, but there is a strong likelihood that the same item could and would be sold by the un-affiliated store owner, too – even if they couldn’t get it for the same low wholesale cost. Face it, it’s pretty hard to buy ALL of what you need made here, locally. It isn’t the 1800s anymore and it hasn’t been Made in the USA for decades. So, I am ok with that even though I will try to pick something locally made, for more cost if available; but if you want the iPhone or the TV or the sweater or the avocado… it was made, designed, sewn or grown somewhere else.
At this point, at least for me, it is about the shopping experience that the single shop owner can offer me – not all of them do – so I don’t have to shop there and I don’t.
I can get a “glad to see you, Dawn – here is your order with extra sauce for your scallion pancakes” at the Chinese restaurant. We’ve been going there for 20+ years, but it didn’t take that long for Maggie to know who we are and to know which order was ours (we don’t usually use Mike’s name, there are too many Mikes out there, but even when I forget, she knows which Mike he is.)
But, I have ALSO gotten that from Best Buy Mobile. There, the guy*, and now the girl who replaced him (the one with the French horn tattoo behind her ear) has sold us not 1 or 2 but countless cell phones. Sure, I know they have my info on file in the CRM database, but they make the effort before they access my account to welcome me back by asking how my iPhone is working out. “Do you still like it better than the Blackberry?” Yes. of course…and we are here to get one more today.
I’d bet if you buy a lot online, your local UPS guy knows where you want your box on the front porch and that no, you do not want your mail shoved through the mail slot – your USPS carrier KNOWS you want it in the mailbox you mounted on the outside of your 128 (and counting) year old house.
Buying local means so many things to me, but I’d bet it means a lot more to Maggie at Hong Kong Pearl, Mark at Giant, Brenda at the LCH, Trish at the Cafe, Amy and Lois and Michael at my two local Staples Copy Center shops…and even if I can’t remember the names of the two employees at BBM, I will wait for them if there is a line, because I like to see that they still have a job there and I support them, too. (The guy* is department manager in electronics now. We may go see him next…) right after we have breakfast at LCH and pick up pretzels for the soccer team. Next time you’re in Philly Pretzel Factory, say hi to Sean for me. He’s a great guy, too.
~ Dawn aka Hat Girl