By Renée Soucy
Did you know shopping locally can have a positive effect on our wallets, environment and the local economy?
So much in life comes down to the choices we make. Some decisions bring joy, precious memories, epic hangovers, and—hopefully not too often—photos that seem to live forever on the internet (Bumster jeans, we’re talking about you)! However, beyond the aesthetic choices we make around what we buy, there’s a ripple effect into our communities at large emanating from the decisions around where we buy those things. We’ve all heard it a thousand times over - “Make an effort to support local businesses. It’s the right thing to do.” Yet it seems like most of the time we’re just supposed to take it at face value without really knowing why it matters.
There are many reasons, most of them point to the concepts of interconnectedness and interdependence, ideas which have gained prominence in our collective conscience through the increasing popularity of mindfulness practices and Eastern philosophies like Buddhism. These concepts basically state that everyone and everything are all connected in ways that are both visible and invisible, and the actions that each of us take have consequences which are felt far beyond what we can easily or immediately perceive.
Like Ben Franklin once famously said, there are two things in life that are unavoidable: death and taxes. Unfortunately, many big box retailers think they can bend this rule and squeeze massive tax breaks out of communities which, over the long run, drains local governments of revenue. Shopping at a local business means you are generating income for locals and by extension (through taxes) the local government.
Charity Begins at Home
Local nonprofits and charitable organizations, from youth organizations to food banks, know who’s got their backs: small and midsized local businesses. As a group they give an average of 250% more than large businesses to local concerns.
One of the best, and often overlooked benefits of shopping locally is the difference it can make in the lives of employees. There’s a big difference between working in a large corporate environment where the job descriptions and day to day interactions are scripted by an anonymous HR department hundreds of miles away. In an owner operated business, employees get a firsthand look at what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur, learning invaluable skills along the way: skills that they just might use in building their own business someday.
Local Sensibility and Style
Whether in a chalet in the Alps, a Brooklyn brownstone, or a mid-century home in Palm Springs home, great architecture and designs naturally reflect and harmonize with the larger environment. Style, the kind that feels effortless and intuitive, just seems to work that way. Perhaps it’s something in the air, the movement of the light, and even the water that all come together—shopping local promotes this dynamic. Local resources and retailers, including family owned businesses who’ve been around for decades like Snyder Diamond, have accumulated first-hand knowledge, experience and community contacts and relationships—important value-adds which shouldn’t be overlooked. They also ‘get’ the local design sensibility on an aesthetic level and are living it in a way a business thousands of miles away just won’t.
Attitude is Everything
Vehemently avoiding big boxes isn’t fun or feasible. Denying yourself that Target or Trader Joe’s run misses the point. Shopping local is more about an attitude and thinking locally, so much that it will eventually become second nature to stop by that small retailer to, say, stock up on hand soap and pick up a latte and sandwich from the cafe next door or a paperback from the bookstore while you’re in the neighborhood. Informed decisions are mindful decisions - and when applied to shopping locally - those decisions feel, look and do a whole world of good.