Shop Local – A Community Mindset


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Is shopping local only about buying products from the merchants where you live? Is the onus solely on the consumer, or should it extend to the businesses as well? What about social responsibility to one another?

Dictionary.com defines community as: a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals. Many shop local campaigns talk about the importance of supporting local entrepreneurs because they support our communities.

“The Institute for Local Self-Reliance studied the local multiplier effect in several small Maine communities (in 2003), finding each $100 spent at local independents generated $45 of secondary local spending, compared to $14 for a big-box chain. 48% of each purchase at local independent businesses was recirculated locally, compared to less than 14% of purchases at chain stores.” (Retrieved from: https://www.amiba.net/resources/multiplier-effect/) That’s a lot of money staying within the local economy and worth taking a moment to think about before shopping online or down island.

Is shopping local only about buying products from merchants where you live?

It makes good sense to shop locally whenever you can. Let’s face it, in a small town it is often very difficult to get a wide variety of products. Without a broad base of consumers to draw from, niche businesses cannot survive. That leaves the local entrepreneur having to navigate through their inventory, finding key products that will move off the shelves in a timely manner. Not an easy task, as many fads go in and out of style so quickly (think fidget spinners). Speculating what will sell can be a risky business for a small entrepreneur.

One good practice is to approach the store owner and ask if an item you are looking for can be brought in before purchasing online. Offer to prepay, if you know it is a product you love. Try to get past the ease of an online purchase and get to where you make the effort to call a business in your community to source what you are looking for. Try to remember the multiplication factor. The more you spend locally, the more stays in the local economy.

Is the onus solely on the consumer, or should it extend to the local businesses as well?

Let’s go back the Dictionary.com definition of community where it spoke of having common attitudes, interests and goals. We all want a thriving a prosperous community. We want to see a variety of activities, service clubs, shops and infrastructure. We want to see people invested in the region, choosing to make the North Island their home. Shopping local is one way to contribute to the success of this common goal; a thriving community.

To embrace the uniqueness of each business, entrepreneurs need to work together. “You wouldn’t want your house to look like everyone else’s. So why would you want your community to look that way?” (Retrieved from: https://www.independentwestand.org/what-happens-when-you-shop-local/) To that end, it is important to see what each other offers in terms of products. If one business sells horseshoes, don’t go out and buy more horseshoes. Find a product that no one has and when someone comes into your store asking for horseshoes, refer them to the other business. This type of attitude breeds a sense of community; where we move from competitors to allies. Where group success is at the forefront and everyone prospers because of it.

What about social responsibility to one another?

Social responsibility is an ethical framework that suggests we have an obligation to think not only about ourselves, but the society at large. This type of thinking is especially important in a rural, remote area such as ours. In terms of commerce, this is achieved when we leave instant gratification behind and take a moment to consider our impact. The benefits? Part-time jobs for our youth. A wide selection of products. Support for our not-for-profits and sports teams. Secondary employment opportunities for those working outside of the resource sector. People invested in the community, willing to work together to achieve collaborative success.

How many small changes can you make that can have a big impact in the long run?

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