Maybe it’s times to take a closer look at your role in the “Buy Local” movement. Consumers (you and me) have a tremendous amount of power, responsibility and leverage with the dollars we spend every day. The benefits to our community can be tremendous and the benefits far exceed sustaining the local companies where we choose to shop.
There is a direct benefit to the community if we buy from a local business as opposed to buying from a catalog, on the internet or from a company outside the immediate area. When we spend with local businesses, we help them keep their doors open. In return, they pay higher property taxes and they pay sales and income taxes, which translates into schools (K-20), police, fire, water, sewer, streets, parks, public healthcare and other infrastructure. The benefits don’t end there.
When you buy locally, those local businesses make contributions of time, resources or expertise to support extra curricular activities and non profits in our community. When we buy locally we indirectly pay the wages for the employees who recirculate the money in the community, paying residential taxes and for amenities we all need like schools, housing, goods and services. The more locally we buy, the better we take care of the environment, spending less on fuel (whether we drive out of town or have products shipped in) and less on packaging.
If you’ve been persuaded to increase your efforts to participate in “buy local” activities, increase your effectiveness by paying attention to a few more important things when you are making spending decisions. The benefit increases when we buy from a local merchant who purchased goods from a local manufacturer or grower or purchased services using local labor. For example, let’s say you need a gift to take to a party for a child. You go to the locally owned and operated toy store. As you walk through the store several things catch your eye. The first thing you pick up is a wooden toy train. As you look at the package, you find that the toy was designed and built by a local craftsman, the packaging was designed by a graphic artist in town and the wood came from a local timber mill. If you choose to buy this product you help the community five times:
- The local store owner
- The local store employees
- The craftsman
- The graphic artist
- The timber mill
This may not seem like to big a deal, but the choices we make collectively make a big difference in the long term health of the community. Buying locally is as important in business-to-business endeavors as it is with our personal spending practices. Whether it is food, gifts, life insurance, housing or childcare, buying locally makes a difference for businesses and community members alike. By increasing our awareness about this critical issue, we increase the local investment we make in the community. There are simple ways we can increase our collective local buying power.
- Check the local newspaper and local websites for places that sell the things you need/want.
- Focus on quality over price.
- Instead of gifts or cash bonuses, consider using gift certificates. Local business organizations often have programs that allow the recipient to make purchases at a variety of local businesses to encourage employees, friends and loved ones to shop locally.
- Use discount cards from area schools, many local companies participate and a percentage of every sale goes toward the support of local schools.
- The next time someone shows you the great deal they got at an outlet mall or discount website remind them that local companies support soccer and baseball clubs, shelter the homeless and make other local investments that make our community the place we love.
- If you’re involved in a fundraiser of any kind, check out local fundraising opportunities before you sign on with an out of area vendor.
Low Local Value High Local Value
|No local raw materials||
All local raw materials
|Design and Manufacture Elsewhere||
Local Manufacture and Design
|Assembled Out of Area||
|Out of Area Packaging||
If the raw materials came from the local area and a product is locally manufactured and sold, the buy-local-value of the product is high. If a product is purchased outside the area and shipped in, the buy-local-value of the product is low.
For more information on Buy Local strategies and campaigns contact MyZe Strategies or the author of this article, Mysty Rusk.
Please feel free to use this article and related graphics with appropriate credit to the author.