I believe that my family and my community benefit when I shop from locally owned enterprises. Therefore I will shop exclusively from stores owned and operated locally, preferably from stores where I can meet the owner, even better if the owner is operating the store.
This is basically putting my money where my mouth, or my computer keys, are. In December I wrote a column for the York Daily Record entitled, “Shop Like a Pennsylvanian.” In researching that column I stumbled upon study after study that concluded that buying from locally owned stores was better for the local economy. Essentially at least 50% of the money you spend in local establishments stays in your local community. As opposed to shopping at large retailers like Wal-Mart and Giant, which contribute far less to the local economy.
I wasn’t aware that York was a tourist destination, but no matter, there weren’t enough to keep her shop open. I’ve thought about this a lot since that day. When purchasing food, I always try to “buy local,” purchasing produce that has been grown right here. But what about everything else? Why do I go to Walmart or Target or Giant or Dick’s for the things I need? Why do I do most of my gift shopping online?
Honest answer? It’s cheaper and easier. I don’t have to move my butt out of my chair to make the purchase. Anything I want is only a mouse click away. I even buy shampoo and toothpaste online. I have this fetish about Drugstore.com. I just love it. Instead of standing in the shampoo aisle weighing the benefits of shiny versus full-bodied, I can collect opinions from perfect strangers who took the time to write reviews. Never mind the generalizations that could be made about the kind of people who take the time to write a 500 word review of a shampoo or toothpaste. And the shipping is free! How can you go wrong?
But like so many other “conveniences,” I haven’t thought through the long-term consequences of my shopping habits. Who is getting my money?
best guess? One of the “one percent.”
So instead of carping on this any longer, I’ve decided to see if I can change my ways. I’m not good at doing things half-way, so I’ve decided to go cold turkey. No more Walmart, no more Giant, no more Amazon (sharp intake of breath noted), no Drugstore.com. Can I do this?
More importantly, can my
family and my budget survive this decision?
I don’t know. They certainly have some valid concerns. In light of their fears, I’ve decided to only commit this experience which begins January 1 to three months. April Fool’s Day will be the appropriate end. Or not.
My hope is that this experiment will
be eye opening for all of us. I don’t believe my husband’s deep worries that
I’ll blow the family budget on it will come to fruition. I know we’ll spend
more on some things, but I think the intentional shopping and more importantly,
quitting the online shopping habit, will counter those increases.
I’m more worried about the sacrifices. Is there any decent local wine? Where will I buy my expensive, super-soft toilet paper? Will my kids survive a dirth of Cheezits? And just how much am I willing to spend on cat food? Hair care products could very well be my breaking point.