Buy Local!

The primary reason to post on buying local is not to dismiss local merchants and service providers, but to uncover the fallacy that buying everything local is truly better for the whole community.  I should back up and say that there are plenty of reasons to buy local.  I’ve never tried to oursource a haircut, and I’m pretty sure that the Veteran’s Barber Shop doesn’t worry about losing my hair to a stylist in India.  I’m also confident that folks will always want some homegrown vegtables at the Farmer’s Market as opposed to the stuffed shipped in at Wal-Mart(larger stores are increasingly using local producers for produce and meat).  Buying local almost always provides some level of convenience that can’t be realized by buying over the Internet or traveling to a larger city.  Buying local also does keep, to some degree, dollars in the community, of course there’s no guarantee that the local merchant you buy from buys his goods locally. 

The first fallacy to buying local is that “we are all better off.”  Who is better off?  The local seller that you gave your money to?  Sure.  But are you better off as the buyer.  Did you pay more for an item that you could have received elsewhere, or did you settle for an item because the inventory was smaller than a distant competitor?  If yes, then you are hardly better off, and though it can’t be measured economically, you aren’t as happy as you might have been.  To take this a step further if you did purchase an item for more money simply because it was local, you have less discretionary money than if you took advantage of the savings from a distant competitor.  What would you have done with that savings?  I’d probably go get my kids ice cream from a local seller, or combine it with other savings and go out to eat at a local restaurant.  Your buying power, locally or elsewhere, has been reduced.  That doesn’t make you better off.  There’s plenty more to post on buying local, in the meantime buy something on eBay and spend your savings locally, you’ll probably be better off.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Helen on November 6, 2009 at 10:11 am

    I think it’s easy to lose this perspective when you live in a larger town, but around here the locally owned companies tend to use local computer guys, they tend to use local printing companies to produce their marketing materials, in general they use local banks, they even tend to use local office supply distributors and insurance brokers. They hire local surveyors and contractors. They also tend to support local causes while the chain stores are supporting nationwide fundraising projects (and how much of that money goes to my neighbors?). My friends and my neighbors (and my family too) are all better off financially if these locally owned companies stay healthy and prosper. We all lose customers when they fail. I don’t think it’s a fallacy to say that “we are all better off” to buy local.

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  2. […] more on this topic, see here and […]

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