I am all for bargains.
In fact, I think that most of the time doing everything we can (within reason),to save money is not only smart, but often necessary, in order to stay within our budgets.
But once in awhile there are legitimate reasons for doing what is expedient, such as buying local. And I often have to remind myself of this when it seems I’m just taking the “easy way out” or being lazy.
These are some the items we often purchase locally:
- milk or other necessities (from a local convenience store)
- vegetables, eggs or honey (from a farm stand or our CSA share)
- hardware for home repairs (from the small, downtown hardware store)
- grocery items (from our local supermarket)
- prepared foods and homemade crafts (from local church fairs)
- girl scout cookies or other products from neighbor kids raising money
- meals and beverages from local restaurants (one in particular which sources ingredients from local farmers)
- delicious fresh-roasted coffee (by a local roaster)
Now let me clarify that is it not always more expensive to buy food and household items from a local source.
We have found some wonderful local vegetable stands, for instance, who actually offer us a better-than-supermarket price. (When I was growing up, sometimes I was allowed to sell our excess garden produce at a small table on the side of the road, or from a wagon pulled down one of the neighboring streets. We sold a tomato for about ten cents, which even for that time, was a bargain.) And our convenience stores actually offer one of the best prices on 1% milk!
But more often than not, it seems the smaller and sometimes family-run businesses right in my neighborhood are a little more expensive.
Most often when I make a purchase my priority is to get the best bang for my buck. Sometimes I will drive to a certain store, take advantage of a special sale or offer, purchase in bulk, or order online, just to name a few of the ways I try to save my hard-earned money. But that’s a post for another day.
Sometimes it’s a hard decision to “spend more” to buy something locally, when I know that it’s so many dollars or cents cheaper at a store like Walmart.
But in thinking it over, there are plenty of legitimate reasons to buy local.
Here are some of the good, responsible reasons that I sometimes stay close to home and buy local:
1. Convenience – This may seem extremely obvious, but buying local is usually very convenient. We don’t have to drive across town (or farther), peruse sales flyers for the best buy, clip coupons, or plan around our schedule to make our purchase. I can simply stop on my way home from work.
2. Save money on gas – Any time we can make a purchase close to home, we are saving precious gas dollars. I think sometimes we overlook the obvious, that driving a greater distance to save a dollar or two may not add up.
3. Save time – Our time is one of our most valuable assets. Often we can “waste” or expend far more time and energy trying to save money, than it’s actually worth. Whatever time I chose to spend travelling to and from a store and shopping is time taken away from something that could be more important, such as family time, rest, cooking a homemade meal, or working on a hobby. If you work for yourself, it could even be taking away from your actual income.
4. Support Your Community – While it’s true that saving money is important, it’s also valuable to invest in the local businesses of your own home town. They are usually run by honest people just trying to make a living, and they both appreciate and depend on our purchases. Also, just think how you would feel if your neighbors all went out of business. There would be no more “convenience” stores to quickly stop in to on your way home from work.
Supporting your neighborhood children’s school and club programs is also a worthwhile investment. When some of the neighborhood children come to the door selling products to raise money for a worthwhile cause, we try to help them out whenever possible. It also helps to foster good relationships and shows Christ-like love to those around us.
5. Better Quality – Not always, but very often a locally made or grown item is of better quality than the same item purchased from a big store. We often buy ice-cream from our local restaurant and dairy, and let me tell you, it is a treat! It’s also made from more natural ingredients. Our produce “share” (from our CSA – Community Shared Agriculture), is completely fresh and delicious, picked fresh from our local farm.
6. Connect With Your Neighbors – This may sound like a funny one, but just hear me out. Usually, I like to talk and interact with people, and what better way to do so with those in your own neighborhood than by shopping in a store in your town? I’m not suggesting that you can build deep, intimate relationships by chatting in the grocery isle over the spaghetti sauce. But you may be able to meet someone new, say “hello” to an acquaintance, or just smile or lend a listening ear to someone who needs a little attention. There have been times when I have asked if I could reach an item from a high shelf for someone in the supermarket, and the helping hand seems to make their day.
There are likely other reasons for buying local, but these are some of the values that cause me to feel I am making a responsible decision when I decide it’s best to pick something up in town.
Do you make a habit of buying certain items in your home town? Do you consider it important to support your local businesses? What types of purchases do you make locally?