Your credit union is built on the idea of people helping people. You already know being a member of a local co-op is better than being just another customer at a big bank that answers to shareholders. So, why give that up when you find a bargain online? Shopping locally is better for the community, better for the environment and the best way to find something unique that can make all of your friends say “wow.”
Shopping locally benefits your community.
When you shop locally, the money you spend stays in the community. Buying a new pair of shoes from a local shop takes dollars out of your pocket and puts them into the pockets of a local resident. What you might not consider is that those dollars are spent by the business owners as well, and they’re also likely to spend their money locally.
American Express estimates that about 68 cents out of every dollar spent in local shops stays at home, and if that dollar is spent locally three times, it means that – for every dollar you spend at local shops – $1.45 goes back into the community. It’s what economists refer to as the multiplier effect, and it’s very powerful.
Fun fact: The multiplier effect is why the government is still willing to make pennies, even though minting them costs more than one cent. The multiplier effect is powerful enough to justify all that loose change in the jar next to your bed; and it’s powerful enough to make shopping locally a force for change.
Of course, that money doesn’t just go to shopkeepers and restaurant owners. The local government takes out its share in local taxes. Even if you hate the idea of taxes, and we all may grumble in April, local taxes go to schools, firefighters, and other services in the area. Buying dinner at a local bistro can be the reason the town has enough money to fix the potholes on your street. Not a bad dessert.
Shopping locally is better for the environment.
You already know about the danger of greenhouse gases and the effects of global warming. What’s easy to forget is that everything you buy had to come from somewhere. If you’re drinking imported spring water from Fiji, that water flew halfway around the world. If your new pants were made in China, they racked up frequent flyer miles, too.
It’s really hard to avoid foreign manufacturing, but many local businesses have locally made goods for sale, which eliminates at least one flight your product might take, saving on fuel and greenhouse gases. Even if the product you’re buying was manufactured overseas, buying it locally can shave a flight or two off the product’s carbon footprint.
Shopping locally is the best way to find hidden gems.
There’s nothing quite like the feeling of finding something your friends have never seen before. Whether it’s jewelry from a local metalsmith, a purse from a local boutique or pottery from a local artisan, local shops have the best potential for one-of-a-kind, where-did-you-get-that, I-love-it-so much uniqueness out of any shopping you can do. Anyone can get on Amazon or check out a department store. It takes a real connoisseur with a real eye for style to shop locally and find the best products. Show off your personal style with buys from local artisans.
One final benefit of shopping locally is that many of your finds come with a story. Those earrings might be from a local artist who got the inspiration from the nursery rhyme her mother told her, or those plates might borrow their pattern from the artist’s love of pop art. Whatever the story, local artists will tell you how they came up with their unique designs. Part of the fun of local shopping is the connections you can build with local artists, and hearing their stories is part of it.