Are you buying loco or local?
Recently, we were having a conversation at the market about the value of buying local products and supporting locally owned businesses. But is buying local overrated, given that we live in a global economy? Do people care? Has our perspective been redirected to accept that many of our products come from other countries? Are we OK with box stores creating strip malls that make our cities look like Anytown, USA?
If nothing else, I ask these questions to be thought provoking.
The bottom line is this:
• Locally owned businesses give a community its distinctive character, uniqueness and soul. Business owners have a stake in the communities and in many cases are involved in various service organizations or serve on local boards that aim to better the lives of the citizens in the community.
• Local businesses are better for the environment, given that folks don't have to drive great distances to get what they can locally, thus putting less pressure on our infrastructure and air quality. Check your odometer — can you find what you are looking for in town before getting in the car?
• Many box stores sell from a national sales plan; local small businesses can cater to the citizens' needs more quickly and offer a broader selection of product choices. Buy what you want — not what some faceless corporation wants you to buy. Supporting local businesses continues to give us a choice.
• Owners of locally owned businesses contribute a larger share of revenue back into the community compared to multinational corporations.
• Supporting local feels good — as it should. The other option is to keep feeding the megamachine.
• Local business owners often deliver better customer service. Because they live in the community, they can relate to their customers' lifestyles to better service their needs.
• Unique local businesses make us a destination. How many times do we travel to a town to visit a specific area due to its charming local flair and diversity?
One easy way to shop local right now is to support your local farmer. Many crops are in season and readily available in local markets. We are fortunate to live in an area that is bountiful with food. Enjoy the richness and flavors that abound from foods that are harvested daily in our community.
Locally owned businesses are the root of our community.
Every time we make a local purchase, we are making a choice — a choice to reinvest and strengthen our community. Try to source as many goods and services as possible from locally owned businesses. From cars to food, it all counts toward making our community flourish.
Kevin Cotter is managing general partner at New Earth Market in Yuba City.