Shop Local – Just Smile and Say “Hi!”

I read a post today that there are more and more people who aren’t sure how to “shop local”.

At first this puzzled me, until I took into account the fact that it is very, very easy to shop in a big box store or at the local mall. You don’t have to talk to anyone if  you don’t want to. You don’t have to feel guilty for just window-shopping. If you’re not interested, you don’t have to explain yourself.

Shopping locally means, however, that you might be in a store with just you and the shopkeeper inside. Oops!  This could begin to feel a little uncomfortable. Where do you go?  What do you look at? You almost feel as if you have stage fright!

We really have gotten accustomed to a plastic and artificial society. Kids talk to each other through their cell phone…even if they’re sitting side by side.  Kids…what am I saying?  I was talking to an engineering manager the other day who said that his engineers would prefer to IM or text one another about a problem rather than getting up, walking five feet and having a face-to-face conversation.

I think that the “shop local” movement is also a movement to return to the idea of relationships.

You don’t have a relationship with the e-commerce shopping cart on that website where you just purchased some air-soft ammunition, do you?

While it might seem easier, developing relationships is important. When you shop locally, you recognize that something that you are doing will directly impact a specific individual. You might even begin to, (gasp!) care about people who used to be perfect strangers.

You might actually be concerned when your barista tells you that her daughter had a fever of 102.5 last evening, and she’s worried about her today.

Talking to your local dairy farmer makes you realize that there are people who are on duty 24/7 and they really don’t seem to mind it.  They milk cows and/or goats twice a day, every day of the week, every week of the year. Isn’t it wonderful that there are people who do that so that we have fresh dairy products every day?

What about the people who are picking your turnips and kale this week at the organic farm you support. Do you follow them on Facebook so that you can get to know the farm and their employees a little better?

Personally, I love stories. I hate watching television programs or movies that ignore the human/interpersonal relationship factor. If there’s a touch of humanness to the story, I’m more willing to watch it. You see, humans are not meant to live in a vacuum.  We need one another, even when we don’t realize it.  We’re much more powerful as a collective force rather than as just individuals.

The next time you step into a local shop, look the owner in the eye and say, “Hello!”

Most of the time, they’re very happy to just have a conversation with you.  Most shopkeepers never expect every person who comes in their store to actually make a purchase.  Try it.  Just one time.  Come back and comment on this post about your experience.  I’d really love to hear it.

Kathleen Birmingham

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Small Biz is the Backbone of our Economy

Shopping locally is the thing to do.

Shopping locally will make a difference

I recently read that small business employs a whopping 97% of all employees.  I’m not quite sure how they came up with this number, and you know what everyone says about statistics…that 48.7% of all of them are made up on the spot.

Yes, I made that one up.

The real fact, however, is that small biz is what this country was built on, long before the industrial revolution.

Today, it is what I look for when I shop.  I support CSA, community supported agriculture.  I actively seek out “mom and pop” shops for coffee, lunch, and other shopping endeavors.

Yes, I shop on the internet, and I do shop at the large chain stores from time to time.  If I knew where to get these things without going on the internet or going to a Kohl’s or Target, then I would do so. I also recognize that sometimes you can’t get around finding what you need at a larger store.

What I’d really like to do, however, is to raise everyone’s awareness about shopping locally.

When you shop at a large department store approximately 17 cents of every dollar stays in your community (usually in the form of taxes). When you shop at a locally owned small biz, between 48 and 78 cents stays in the community.

That’s a HUGE difference.

A grass roots movement is afoot around the country to raise the awareness of people to this fact.  The economic forecast is pretty grim.  However, if we try to spend more of our money locally, we might just turn things around.

Let’s do our part.  Shop locally. Encourage others to do the same.

If we can even persuade people to spend $50 to $100 locally this holiday season rather than at a large chain store or the internet, we will be making a significant change in our communities.  Let me know what you’re doing to make a difference.

I welcome any and all comments.

Shop Local Initiatives

Buying from him today could keep him in biz tomorrow.

For anyone who reads this, consider making a pledge to yourself to shop locally for a period of time. I have heard initiatives from around the country where people are trying to shop locally for the entire holiday season.

Others want to try to set up a single day a month where customers will buy locally. This requires a little bit of organization on the part of the biz owners, but they might consider doing it.

The payoff could be huge!

Spending money in your community helps to pay for services such as police, fire, emergency personnel, to say nothing of our schools, roads, and infrastructure.

More and more communities are discovering that they don’t have money for such essential services, and even more of them are discovering that they aren’t going to be able to afford the pensions of their current workers a few short years down the road.

When you spend money in a big department store, most of the money leaves your community (and oftentimes even your country) by the truckloads. We have to stop sending our money to other countries.

The more we do that, the more grim our future is going to be.

Little by little we are draining our communities dry. And yet, it only takes just a little bit of a change, perhaps spending $50 to $100 locally that you would normally have spent in a big store or online.  You will also find that when you shop locally you have a lot more choices.  Do we really want to be so universal that everyone, everywhere buys exactly the same thing?

What are you going to do today to try to support your local biz?