Buy local

My wife and I recently went for a walk, pushing our son in his stroller as we enjoyed the nice spring weather. Within walking distance is a local nursery called “Estrada Farms Nursery,” which is owned by some friends of ours. We stopped by to look for some flowers to put in the front porch of our cafe. Their inventory was small because they had just re-opened, but their staff was very helpful. We got some great ideas of what to put in hanging pots, and made a commitment to go back. The pricing was fair, and service was excellent.

Later we drove past the nursery, and my wife said “even if paid a tiny bit more, I’d way rather spend an extra 30 cents, (now at this point, I thought she was going to comment on the proximity, or convenience). She went on to say “knowing it’s going to directly feed a family, rather a massive corporation like Lowe’s or Home Depot.”

I thought about that, and compared it to a  discussion I had  in college about that same subject where I had taken the other side–I’d prefer to go wherever gave me the biggest discount. This friend’s perspective was that if you always do that, then small booksellers and smaller chain gas stations will go out of business. At the time, I only thought of my own perspective, proclaiming adamantly that if a small business went out of business, so be it, that’s the cost of going into business.

I look back on that with a little bit of shame. How blind I was to the larger, social fabric of what it means to belong to a community. And as the years have passed, I’ve sadly watched as small local businesses all over the state have had to close their doors–and far too many have been local bookstores, with their quaint charm and smell of pages and leather that only a local bookstore can have. (My new favorite though is Pioneer Book, in Orem-charming, and a great inventory)

My point of view now, admittedly is influenced by small business ownership. Compare it to how once you are a server in a restaurant, you will forever be a good tipper. But this goes deeper than just “I know what they are going through” type of thing.  I believe in the entrepreneurial spirit, and think it must thrive in order for our economy and our country’s morale to turn around.Success in a small business gives you a unique shopping experience, a character and feel to that store that is impossible to find elsewhere. Giving you that experience is the gifts, buy their products. Pay a little extra for the ambiance. You are going to part with your money anyway, why not have it go to someone who has taken quite possibly the biggest risk of their life, shunned naysayers, and then dedicating their savings, their heart, their souls into building something that hopefully lasts?

It is a tough and brutal market for small businesses, and they rely heavily on word of mouth in order to grow and flourish. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate local bloggers and other people who take great pride in being able to point out the best local businesses to shop, which may be off the beaten path. I know firsthand the challenges that are inherent to business ownership, and believe me, there are plenty of them, without trying to compete with big box retailers and national chains.

So who are your favorite local restaurants and businesses? What small retailer do you recommend I go to in order to support their business endeavors?

Also, what blogs do you follow, or who do you go to in order to find the best local businesses?

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4 Comments

  1. Just curious: are those non-local companies employers for robots? Aren’t they manned by local employees, too?

    Reply
  2. Craig

     /  April 6, 2012

    They are absolutely manned by local employees. At least, most of them are local.

    Most national chains will have local employees here, as well as staff members (executive management, accounting, customer service, etc) who live hundreds, if not thousands of miles away in Who-Ville. In contrast, the local shop’s proverbial “mom and pop” ARE the executive management, and will likely hire the CPA on main street. Nothing against Who-Ville, but accountants and executives who live there aren’t spending their money in our local economy.

    Also, our local demand for any given product is a certain number. For example, let’s say Lehi residents have the demand for 1,000 trees. It takes employees to support demand for those items–i.e., sales staff, cashiers, accountants, managers, etc. So if the buying habits shift from Home Depot, and are redirected to Estrada Farms for those 1,000 trees–then it will automatically increase employee hours at Estrada Farms. Because of increased customers, they will HAVE to hire additional personnel. And as they are reviewing resumes, who will they hire? Well, none other than the former tree salesman of the now desolate Home Depot.

    Reply
  3. E. A. Hughes

     /  April 26, 2012

    I couldn’t agree more. It is heartbreaking to see the continuing desaturation of our communities by large companies in pursuit of profit margins. Other considerations, such as humanity and community, do not factor in major chains’ decisions, and it is this attitude that is slowly leeching the life from high streets across the UK, my beloved country.

    Unfortunately I do not see the point where this will turn around, capitalism having become the dominant force in my society.

    Thankfully I live in an area where independent trade is still encouraged and supported. I have two independent bookshops within ten minutes’ walk of my front door, both of which host author events and support literacy within local schools. I frequent, and will continue to frequent, both of them as often as I can — as you say, I will be spending my money anyway, so why not pay it into my community?

    I am not persuaded by the folks who argue that the benefit of large chains is that they create jobs and boost the economy. This is only one side of a multi-faceted argument, in which social values are more often than not forgotten or simply pushed aside in favour of money.

    Thanks for this post.

    Reply
    • Craig

       /  April 26, 2012

      Very thought out reply–I appreciate you reading and commenting. Also, I checked out, and subscribed to your blog, and look forward to reading more of your writing!

      Reply

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