Buying Local has gained a lot of steam over the past decade. People are starting to think about the impact their shopping has on their local economy as well as the benefits of supporting locally-owned business and establishments.
Think of your dollar as a voting token. It’s a completely voluntary choice, and every time you spend it you’re supporting a product or service provider. Now imagine this “voting” as movement in which your community chooses to support local establishments when possible. This creates a stronger local community and supports local businesses. Such a movement has been catching on across the United States as individual communities are choosing to support local establishments to keep their local economy strong. But it’s not just for the sake of the economy, there are many benefits to choosing to shop local. You’ll find your own interesting experiences along the way.
We have a few articles that describe personal experiences and benefits of going local, so be sure to check them out: The Local Coffee Difference, Two Local Coffee Shop Stories, Local Honey, Local Flavor Gift Baskets, and Marketplaces.
Buy Local Models
These are a couple of the best examples I’ve seen of buy local initiatives. They’re great models and examples for how other communities can show their support for buying local.
Buy Rio Rancho
In Rio Rancho, NM several local business owners got together to create Buy Rio Rancho. In the early stages they simply displayed large heart-shaped signs in front of local businesses. The idea was to create awareness for drivers passing by on the busy streets that there is a local business at that location. Drivers that pass by those signs frequently started to notice them and take a second look at the local businesses the signs were promoting. As you can tell, it doesn’t take much!
Since then, Buy Rio Rancho has become an alliance in which locals can get involved in supporting the movement. This is a model that can inspire many other communities to do the same.
Another great example of a Buy Local model is Durango, Colorado’s not-for-profit organization Local First. Durango residents see their stickers proudly displayed on front windows of local member businesses. Every year Local First publishes a coupon book called “Be Local” which people can purchase and use the coupons toward amazing deals and discounts offered by local businesses. The book promotes and encourages people to shop locally and rewards them every time they do.
Local First has a great team of volunteers and members dedicated to promoting all things local year round. They host special events, put together guides, and create an opportunity for the local community to support each other in such a creative way. It’s a great example of creating community by supporting each other.
How to Start
I’ve found that the best way to start buying local is by substituting one of your purchasing habits with a local business. For me, that was my morning coffee. I stopped going to the chain stores and found a local coffee shop. And you know what? I didn’t want to go back! I discovered that I wanted to buy local, not that it was some sort of obligation. I enjoyed the quality customer service and knowing that I was directly supporting a business owner that lived in my community. It can be a simple step. And you don’t have to become 100% strict about it, find what works for you.
Or if you’re really committed, why not start a buy local movement in your own community?