This week, I paid $15 for a tea towel. My brother (a huge Buffalo booster) moved to Oklahoma last year, and heís recently begun cooking. So, when shopping a Buffalo gallery, I saw a tea towel that had a hand-sewn Buffalo on it. Lot of money for a tea towel? Well, sure. Worth it? Absolutely.
Thereís a lot of chatter about shopping local, lately. It seems to be the new trend, like riding boots and infinity scarves. Iím all about shopping local, and Iíll tell you why: because I like supporting my friends and neighbors.
When I shop at a local boutique, Iím supporting the owner of that store, who might live down the street or across town. Iím supporting their storefrontsí keeping Main Street busy and their family spending money locally, too. Iíll spend a few more dollars, to make that investment in my community.
But itís more than that, I think. A lot of my friends are artists, writers or craftspeople of some kind. Some of them make a living on their art, some donít. But I donít want to think about a world in which handmade goods cease to exist. I like thinking about someoneís hands weaving the scarves I wear, or turning the pottery vase I bought my parents, last year. I like to wear the earrings my friend Ashley made and tell people, ďOh, these? Yeah, an artist I know made them.Ē I like knowing that my purchasing power has a direct impact on peopleís lives, in a very personal way.
But I think thereís another side to this coin, too. Local shops arenít the only ones that employ our neighbors. How many Springville residents work at Wal-Mart or Tops Markets, for example? If I stopped buying my kitchen appliances at Wal-Mart and my groceries at Tops and those businesses left the area, a good number of our friends would be out of work, too. So, to those who say shopping local is the only way, I say that all shopping is local, if we look at all the different levels of impact any purchase can have.
What about the employees at those big-box stores that some shop-local supporters like to villainize? Those stores, like it or not, have revitalized many communities. They may create competition for smaller retailers, but I donít think a little healthy competition is necessarily a bad thing. Weíve all got to tussle to survive, in our own little way. Who am I to say the bigger fish arenít allowed to swim in the pond, too?
I think thereís something to be said for a healthy balance. For gifts and handmade items, Iíll traipse down to my local retailer and use my almighty dollars, however few of them there may be, to directly support those who live and work beside me. But for groceries and daily necessities, I donít mind going to big-name stores, either. Because their employees need their paychecks too, and I would be remiss in saying they deserve them any less than the local retailer, down the street.
This holiday season, think about the impact your purchases can have, no matter where you buy them. Mindful shopping helps all of us, in a myriad of ways.