A very trendy idea in the media recently is “locavore”. The idea is that you buy as much food as possible from nearby local sources, preferably within 100-150 miles or so. Part of the idea of “locavore” is to support local (nearby) farmers. I recently saw a flyer from the 3/50 project which expanded my definition of “locavores”. The idea is to think about 3 local businesses in your community you would really miss if they were gone. Then make an effort to patronize them some more.
What if I expanded the locavore concept to try to buy more in general from local independently owned stores—beyond the 3 I would miss the most if they suddenly weren’t there? My 3 are the neighborhood grocery store, the hardware/equipment rental shop, and fabulous Chinese restaurant we go to regularly. They help make my neighborhood special and unique and a great place to live. I can easily add the micro-brewery I can walk to, the carpet/floor store I bought my carpets at, and the coffee shop across the street. Seeing that flyer from the 3/50 project made me realize how lucky I am to have so much variety nearby.
The 3/50 project estimates that for every $100 dollars spent at a local independent business, fully 2/3 of it ($68) returns to the community via taxes, payroll, and other expenditures. The same dollar spent at a national chain returns $43. Buying online—minimal or no dollars come home. This makes sense, since the job of a local store for a national chain is to return a specific amount of profit to the home office.
Bloomberg BusinessWeek recently reported on a variety of “buy local” initiatives. One study they mention estimated that a 10% shift in spending would result in over 1,600 new jobs in that particular community (Grand Rapids, Michigan). There are many such “buy local” campaigns across the country—some sources count 130 of them.
From New England, to Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, and across to Michigan, Utah and the West Coast, these buy local campaigns might just be in a community near you—check them out!