Why Buy Local?
August 16th 2013
I have been reading up on the benefits, or not, of buying local. It is a big movement, and one supported by the FSB, of which I am a member. So why bother buying local?
For me it is about these things.
Building Community. The owners of independent local businesses have a stake in their community. They live here, they support local initiatives, protect local environments. They also, collectively, employ more people in Dorset than the big companies. So supporting them with our custom, creates and keeps jobs.
Character. I remember a few years ago Bill Bryson wrote a book called Notes from a Small Island, where he observed that the Market Towns he visited in England were all beginning to look alike, with the same ‘high street chains’. In the current climate, the big chains are pulling out of the high streets. The towns where I love to shop have more independents in them, they have their own unique flavour. A good book shop, a craft shop, an excellent gallery, a café that sells local cakes, a good deli or farm shop all add to the character of a place. We love beautifully crafted things, whether that is furniture or jewellery or a fabulous photograph, we also love to meet the people that make them. We want to keep them in business. This does not always mean spending a fortune. I found somebody locally who would paint a portrait, a good portrait, for less than the price of a new laptop. I wonder which will last longer?
Keeping money in the local area: I am not a economist, but I have a theory. If I spend my money on a silver handmade bracelet, made locally, I pay the maker. The maker pays business rates to my local council supporting the local public services and infrastructure I use. They may pay somebody who works for them, they may spend some of that money at a local restaurant, they may employ an apprentice. Either way, a greater percentage of my money stays in the local area to improve it and enhance it. It is said that for every £1 spent locally 50p-70p is recirculated in the local economy. (Anyone know where this comes from. I keep finding it quoted but no source attributed?)
Green issues: Food miles, imports whatever, you have heard the arguments before. Less travel miles if you buy local goods. I agree but I also want lots of visitors to come to Dorset and buy Dorset goods. Most of them will drive here so I am in a grey area here. It still is the case though, that in season veg bought from the Farm Shop or local grocer within a few hours of being harvested is the best. Which is why top chefs go out of their way to source the best ingredients from the local area.
Cost: Here’s the thing. When I am in a supermarket with lots of choice, lots of 3 for 2 offers etc, I have found out I am more susceptible to advertising and overspending. I have found that by using a small supermarket for a weekly shop, then topping up with local goods. I spend less overall on the grocery shop. Go figure! I am sure there is a psychological report on this somewhere but in the meantime I am going with saving money and supporting the local economy.
Pride: I love the fact that Dorset has such amazingly skilled people. Have you seen some of the craftsmanship of our furniture makers, some of the art work, so many award winners. I live in an area that produces some of the best food and amazing crafts in the world. Locally.
These are some reasons. What do you think? Why would you choose to buy local?