I don’t know that people always realize the power they have when it comes to…well anything, but in this case I’m referring to the local economy. When your neighbor is doing well, when you are doing well, when businesses are doing well, we all benefit. by “well”, I am referring to something as simple as spending time at your local park, volunteering for a cause that is important to you, and/or buying your kid his new school outfit at the local uniform store. I don’t always realize the benefits of shopping local or playing local until recently.
I decided I would spend 100% of my income through December 2014 on local and/or small businesses. Part of the reason I chose to do this is because I think everyone should have the experience of owning their own business, no matter the size. I could not very well encourage business ownership, but not back it up with financial support. There are other benefits to spending some (or all) of your resources locally. I’ll tell you why it has sucked in a bit, but first here are a few of those benefits: (***)
- spending $100 at a small business yields $68 in economic activity in your community vs $48 at a big box store
- spending your money at a local business can generate 3.5x more wealth for the local economy compared to money spent at a chain store
- spending an extra $10 a month at small business instead of a chain store, over 9.3 billion would be directly returned to the economy
- transporting and shipping 2.2 trillion dollars’ worth of products from the u.s. to over 150 other countries results in bad news for the environment, including using 11 billion gallons of fuel per year and producing 3 million tons of toxic chemicals
- building a sense of community and personal fulfillment to support people who are doing what they enjoy (0r at the very least semi-like)
- supporting local business increases the chances of longevity. contrary to popular belief, 25% (not over half the way we are often told) of businesses fail the first year, 36% the second year, and 44% the 3rd year.
It also does something to the soul (and belly) when you give money to a man who is selling curry chicken that he made and you know the money is going back to his family. The business woman who owns that sneaker store is now a little happier because you bought your new sauconys from her running store up the street from your kid’s school. I’m committed to getting big box retailers involved in this movement. I don’t buy into (see what I did there) the notion that it has to be target or your local boutique. Clearly both benefit the economy, however we don’t always see the value or have the time to visit the local diner for a cup of joe versus a national coffee train. I want to see how we all can support both small and large industries, perhaps some in between.
I want us all to take some of our dollars and put it towards the small and simple.
Ok…now that I’ve shared with you the warm, fuzzy stuff plus statistical data let me reveal my dark side.
This shit has been hard. I still haven’t found my thin pens and butter is really bloody expensive when you buy it from a local market. I’ll tell you specifics later.
I went to visit a local market called Marando Farms. One of the people that works the land (I just wanted to say that) gave me a tour of the place. It is a very simple, seemingly well run place do you want to find a local farm in your neighborhood. I simply put farms and my zip code in google. Try it. Let me know some of your favorites in your city.
I didn’t buy anything during the first trip, but did learn 3 new (random) things:
- some people will not have the same reaction to milk if they drink it raw. The only problem with this is your typical grocer is not going to sell raw milk. I am lactose intolerant. I always feel like someone socked me in the gut when I eat the chocolate loveliness that is ice cream, however when I went back to do the big shop atmarando farms, I bought raw milk. I drank it and did not feel a thing. I would do my own research of my findings if I were you. comment below with articles that may or may not back what I am suggesting.
- the site of insects flying around the fruits and veggies threw me off initially. I quickly got over myself, as I would rather wash off the vegetables and fruit due to insects instead of pesticides.
- I’m weird. well, I knew this before, but I was beyond excited to be in this place. I was so excited that the tour guide fella gave me the side eye. “relax, lady, it’s just a tomato.” it was really cool though. everything from the fresh bread to the human size blocks of cheese. I know you can never have too much cheese, but man those blocks were humongous.
When I went back for the big shop I spent a total of $110.14. I priced the exact same items (****) and the total cost would have been approximately $52.00.
Yeah, I had the same reaction. The butter was $12. It was raw and not processed in the same ways we see at some chain grocery stores. The same for the raw milk on my list. If you’re like grandmother, she literally dropped her jaw and said, “$5.00!! I’m not paying $5.00 for bread.” I love that woman!
Yes, you can still shop at farmers markets, but here is what you should consider (1) you don’t have to buy all of your groceries at a market and (2) the fruits and vegetables were less expensive at the market than at the chain grocery store.
By the way, Marando Farms is in Fort Lauderdale and is owned by a wife and husband duo. She is the lady on the right.
You have to think a bit more about your purchasing decisions when you are shopping locally. I actually fell off the proverbial wagon this past weekend. I’ll tell you how next time.