Choose Local over Big Business - Metal by the Metre

Whether you’re a local tradesmen, or you have a DIY renovation happening at home, or maybe you have a small one off task such as building a clothes rack for the room you’ve just moved into, the decision to buy local has a number of positive benefits. Let’s look at some of the reasons why buying local is the way to go.

The world is smaller than ever. Not physically obviously, but with technology, cheap flights and the ability to buy anything from almost anywhere in the world, globalisation has crept up on us far more rapidly than we’ve realised. We can have almost whatever we want whenever we want. But perhaps now we are starting to see that having whatever we want whenever we want it, isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

There is a resurgence in people returning to community living, and with that a desire to shop locally. So what’s behind this resurgence?

Maybe this is best detailed with a story of a young woman. Let’s call her Jeanie.

Jeanie had just moved into her new apartment. Excited to have her own room, she wanted to set up so it felt like home; a welcoming place to come back to for rest and respite. She had moved in and set up her belongings but she knew a final touch was needed to make her room feel complete. She had seen a picture of a galvanised metal clothes rack. It was exactly what she wanted. Not having any building experience she wondered how she might go about building it.

She made a quick sketch on a napkin – far from architectural – and brought it down to a local hardware store. Here, a friendly customer serviceman, let’s call him Mark, approached her to see if he could help. She did her best to explain to Mark what she was hoping for, sheepishly showing him the quick sketch she’d made on the napkin.

Mark asked her if she knew the measurements.

No, Jeanie replied.

And how about the joints, do you know which joins to use?

No, Jeanie replied again.

Mark didn’t bat an eyelid. He worked with Jeanie and expanded on the design she had brought in, measured and cut all the metal she needed and proceeded to explain to Jeanie how to put together all the pieces. Jeanie left more excited than she had come in. Racing quickly home she took pride in constructing her galvanised metal clothes rack. Years on, she still uses her clothes rack, still loves the look, and is reminded of the positive experience she had: from imagining it, to buying it, to constructing it, to placing it in the perfect place in her room

Compared to entering into a big business hardware store, Jeanie’s story may have ended completely different. Walking into huge spaces can feel intimidating and impersonal. As a customer it is easy to feel like you are a bit of a nuisance that needs to be dealt with as soon as possible.

Ok, so other than warm fuzzy feelings, what else can buying locally do? Many people have discussed (here and here are some examples) the benefits of shopping locally, and it often comes down to these four points:

It’s good for the local economy

The more money that is spent in small to medium sized businesses rather than big business, means that  a higher percentage of that money remains in the local community. Also, it has been shown that the more local businesses are able to thrive within a community, the higher the likelihood that house prices around the area will also increase.

Environmental reasons

Buying local means that materials and produce are more likely to be sourced locally as well. This means better energy consumption and less need for excess packaging and transport.

A personal touch

The more small local businesses thrive, the more variety and the more tailored the products become. When big business thrives, they run on a policy of what sells best stays, and so selection becomes the same everywhere you go. Especially when those big businesses are  chain stores. Supporting the little guy means a higher chance you can have things that are much more unique and precious to you.

Community

Even though Mark Zuckerburg professed that he wanted to see a more connected world, there is no real evidence at the moment that our 24-7 computers in your pocket are providing that for us. With a resurgence of desire to buy local also comes the desire for real human interaction within communities. The more local businesses can work and thrive together, the greater the sense of community.

So next time you need to add that little something to your house, why not try local?