The Benefits of Buying Local

Small Business Saturday has been held on the Saturday following Thanksgiving every year since 2010. It's designed to drive shoppers to local merchants nationwide. (Photo: Shutterstock)

I once wrote about a couple of people who took supporting local to severe heights of snobbishness. As I was writing, I remembered a piece about buying local that I had written years ago on one of my personal blogs. I thought it would be worth reposting here.

When I wrote this, I had just started thinking through the importance of buying locally — both food and other goods. Nowhere in this list of reasons is, “It helps you feel superior.” Although, I will say, I do get a sense of satisfaction when I know I’ve helped the local economy.

What good does buying locally do?

  • It stimulates the local economy. A 2002 study done in Texas showed that for every $100 that was spent in a chain bookstore, only $13 of it was put back into the local economy. But that same $100 spent at a local, independently owned bookstore put $45 back into the local economy. Think of that next time you're deciding to get your coffee from a large chain or the local corner coffee house.
  • It helps locals keep their jobs. Most people who work in local businesses live locally. By buying from these places, you help your neighbors keep their jobs and that benefits your whole community.
  • Local businesses give back locally. Do you know who sponsors the little league and softball teams in your town? I do. The local corner coffee house, the corner bar, the independent ice cream parlor (is it beginning to sound like I live in Mayberry? It's not a bad comparison). I also know who donates gift certificates and baskets when the PTA is holding an auction or someone is holding a beef and beer night to raise money for a local cancer patient. It's the same businesses that sponsor my sons' sports teams. By supporting these businesses, I help ensure that they can support the community.
  • It's good for the environment. Less auto emissions occur when you're going only a few blocks (you could even walk or ride your bike) for what you need vs. traveling miles away to a big box store. If enough people buy locally, it could actually prevent a big box store — which usually devours open space and requires new roads to be built — from infiltrating your community. If you're buying locally grown food, it’s really good for the environment because you're helping the small farmers keep their farms operational instead of shutting down and selling to developers.
  • It promotes a sense of community. If you want to get to know your neighbors and others in your community, supporting the local businesses is a great way to do that. Going into my local coffee house is like walking into Cheers. I know the baristas and they know my name; there's one guy who is there every morning who always knows more about what I'm talking about than I do (or so he thinks); I run into other stay-at-home or work-at-home parents during the day; and the coffee is really good.