One of the big buzz words of the farm market and handcrafted world is “local” – sourcing things and people locally to sustain the local economy. I like that, and i think you must also… otherwise the farm markets would yield to the likes of Giant Eagle, Heinens and the like. And I think we like the concept that just a few generations ago was ordinary, everyday – Buying what you need and want from your neighbors… the local butcher, who buys from the local farmer; the produce stand that sources from local growing farms, lessons taught locally, bread baked in the local bakery, and so forth.
Local is a great concept… we know where things come from because it is from our own small dot on the map – the shops, the farms, the craftsmen are all local. The funds, the taxes, the profits stay local.
Local has so many benefits. Lets go back to the basic economics class i took in grad school – Money earned in a region is taxed… and that is good. Money spent in that same region helps to keep someone employed, pay for goods, stimulate the economy of that region. Spent money achieves more than buying a good or service – it perpetuates a cycle of putting money in the pocket of the maker, allowing for paying employees (who spend money locally too), buy resources (which make other vendors crazy happy to have income) and finally sell the goods locally. So local is amazing when it works.
In my read of various blogs I found this chart, and i think it helps to clarify the impact of local economy, and local goods.
So this is my question – Is it fair for a promoter of a local market or local event to allow vendors from outside the area in to sell their goods? Is the event advertised like that? Or is it advertised as buy local? How wide a net is local? Can it include Columbus, Detroit, Pittsburgh? Or should it be contained to Northern Ohio? What if there are already viable businesses selling that product locally – will the outsider bring healthy competition, or undercut the market? And will this outside vendor spend much of their earnings here locally, or take it back to their community? Will Greater Cleveland be benefited or harmed by the presence of vendors from other regions? Will the local businesses be harmed because of the invasion of outside businesses?
As a small business owner i am always thinking about and watching how i move forward. I think it is critical to understand how my business will impact my community and beyond. I want to have a positive impact, paying my due taxes, and spending a portion of the earnings sourcing out local ingredients, local products, local labor. But where do the vendors from Detroit buy their raw materials? Do the folks coming from Columbus or Pittsburgh source their goods, supplies, help from Cleveland? Likely not.
We can improve the economy of our city, community, and region if we just keep it local. The chart above was discussed at length in an article from the Pioneer Valley Local First Initiative, a consortium of merchants, vendors, farmers and political figures that came together to promote western Massachusetts. If you would like to read more of their blog please go to http://www.pvlocalfirst.org/why-shop-local
As i finish this article i want to leave you with two words:
1. When and where you can, choose local – whether it is produce, or art. Your spent dollars will stay here, build the community and raise the economic level here where we live.
2. Pay more attention to where your spending dollars are going. This may mean taking a hard look at what you spend your money on. But remember that your dollars are always benefiting someone… not always is that someone local. Choose Local.
Think Local, Shop Local, Buy Local…. we are doing this as much as we possibly can… and it feels good to know the money is indeed staying here and doing good here.