#BuyLocal

I want to start this post off by saying some of you are going to get offended, thats kind of the point. Also some of you may choose to no longer speak with me or whatever and I am ok with that.

Growing up in New York City, we did not really do “Local”. I mean sure there was the local pizza joint, bagel store, deli, cleaners, drug store, Chinese take-out, coffee shop, dollar store, grocery store, Diner, Italian (Greek, Korean BBQ, Jamaican, etc) Restaurant. Wait a minute, seems everything we did was “local” and help support small business. But, wait how can that be, there were no events, no organizations, no one shoving a “Buy Local” agenda down our throats. It is just what we did, and we did not throw a fit of disgust if a national chain moved in next door.

story time – Dunkin Donuts opened across the street from the local Bagel shoppe. Now this bagel place has been in business since before I was born. Every neighborhood kid at some point or another worked for Steve or Jeff. Sure, we all cringed a little knowing the Dunkin was about to open. And yes prices did go up slightly at the Bagel Shoppe. However something amazing happened, The Bagel Shoppe is still open, and so is Dunkin Donuts proving the two can co-exist.

I am a big support of local small businesses as they are the life blood of any local economy. What I am not a supporter of are these “Buy Local Movements”. These movements look to make villains out of major chain establishments. However what they fail to recognize is, small business are no going to employ the people who are employed by major chains. Without the jobs created by the major chains the small business will certainly fail because people will not have money to patronize their business. These movements also create and elitist attitude, almost like a High School Kliq. Wherein not all local business are treated equal.

Example – there are two bars. Bar A pays for membership with a Buy Local organization, Bar B does not. Bar A hosts events for the organization, is mentioned in publications and on the website. Bar B is not. Bar A thrives because of the attention, Bar B does not. Both Bars are local, so why is Bar A better than Bar B? Because Bar A paid for that status.

I love the work that these Buy Local organizations do, however I just think they need to re-focus on how they go about it. The current approach basically is saying some local business are better than others.

Go out support ALL local businesses, not just the ones who every talks about, but explore your city and your community. You may be surprised as to what you find.

Disclaimer – there are many Buy Local organizations both here in Syracuse and across the country. No where in this post have I singled any one out because this is a generalization. There are some, especially here in Syracuse who do amazing work and I will continue to support them. This post is just an observation of how I see things.

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3 Replies to “#BuyLocal”

  1. Well, if people are going to start hating you because of this article then they hate me for an article I wrote last year. I didn’t go after the “buy local” people as such, but I did say that without chains and larger companies coming in that there would be high unemployment because those companies hire a lot more local people who then stay in the community and have the money to potentially spend in local businesses. There does need to be a mix of both, in my opinion, because that’s what builds character in a community.

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    1. Mitch, I could not agree more with you. It is great to support local businesses who in turn support other local businesses however they cannot employ an entire community. Thats where the big box chains come in, they are a very much necessary part of the economy life cycle. SO for Syracuse, the mall expansion and Costco in Camillus will only lead to great success for local businesses because more people will have more money to spend within the community

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  2. I’d be curious to see about statistics in the global economy – like where is the money going, how it is impossible in today’s world to have 100% of your domestic and business needs met by local businesses, and so on (since keeping money local is the main argument for shopping locally). Do we really need giant chains if everyone works together as a community, or do the numbers show decreased unemployment rates? Since big-box stores do not provide much more than minimum wage, it also means less money in pockets after living expenses = less money to spend locally, and a need to find a second job in some cases.

    Also, I think it takes some time and resourcefulness to find what you need at a local store, since people flock immediately to stores like Target or Walmart since they’re pretty much in every town, and are familiar and easy to shop.

    And I totally see advocating for both, since I see a lot of it happening in our town here as well – I get about 50% of our groceries locally through CSA’s, farm stands, etc. and I used to work at a big-box store and shop around as well.

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