For most, buying local is about getting that warm, fuzzy feeling. You know the one: the it’s-okay-that-I-paid-more-because-it’s-good-for-my-community feeling. It’s the kind of mental reward that keeps people from storming big box stores on Black Friday, opting instead for a stroll through their neighborhood mom-and-pop shops.
But let’s lay down some facts about shopping local, because your purchase does way, way more than make you feel good inside.
A Better Local Infrastructure
According to research by the New Economics Foundation (NEF), an independent economic think tank based in London, when people buy produce at a community supported agriculture (CSA) program or farmer’s market instead of a grocery store, that money is twice as likely to remain circulating within the community.
“That means those purchases are twice as efficient in terms of keeping the local economy alive,” author and NEF researcher David Boyle told Time magazine.
Boyle goes on to say that “money is like blood. It needs to keep moving around to keep the economy going.” And by buying local, it keeps that circulation small. Whereas, if someone was to purchase from a big box store, “it flows out, like a wound,” says Boyle.
When too much money flows out of a community, there isn’t enough financial infrastructure for it to survive, and thus it becomes what the NEF calls “ghost towns,” which are areas devoid of neighborhood shops and services, or “clone towns,” where the downtown area becomes swamped with retail and fast food chains.
Sometimes it’s difficult to justify purchasing a locally crafted product over its big box cousin, that’s totally understandable. But remember this: the difference is that locally crafted products support local employment as well as the relationships that come from an interconnected local community.
Too many products within big box stores stem from overseas, and money flowing through those stores will flow away from the local individuals in need of employment opportunities.
Whereas, in a locally-minded community, money spent at local stores would flow to local people who would then purchase local products. And the cycle would continue, creating a circulation that ensured that money reached as many local hands as possible. If enough individuals followed this practice, it would even increase the velocity (or speed) of money within the area.
“If you’re buying local and not at a chain or branch store, chances are that store is not making a huge profit,” says David Morris, Vice President of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, a nonprofit economic research and development organization. “That means more goes into input costs - supplies and upkeep, printing, advertising, paying employees - which puts that money right back in the community.”
Thus, the money speeds through the community via numerous channels, ensuring lots of people have an opportunity to use that money for various local purposes, from running a business to buying food from a farmer’s market. And every purchase goes toward supporting someone else.
The Last Word
This is but the tip of the shop-local iceberg, which goes much, much deeper. We could talk about the environmental effects of not having to transport goods across the globe, or discuss the employment upswing that stems from supporting local businesses.
Instead, we just want to thank you for taking the time to educate yourself. Now, when you get that warm, fuzzy feeling inside, you’ll know why it feels so darn good to shop local.
Brahms Mount is proud to be a made in US (and Maine) company.