Saturday, November 19, 2011

Does "buy local" mean buying at the local Target or Walmart or other megacorporation owned store?

I'm a little surprised that this is a question, but let's make something clear.  The purpose of "Buy Local" is to buy locally made stuff from locally owned businesses, this way more of the money you spend buying the widget will stay in your local economy.  "Buy Local" is meant to keep your local economy healthy by keeping more money circulating within a 50-mile or so distance of where you live.

Some might think "Buy Local" would mean going to the Target (or other MegaCorpStore) down the road, and buy stuff from them.  That local MegaCorpStore may be physically close to your home, but does that make it a "Buy Local" activity?

The owners of your favorite MegaCorpStore will be gathering products from around the world to sell them in your store.  This is not going to support a healthy local economy, because a large fraction of the money spent at your local MegaCorpStore gets siphoned out to a series of companies that manufactured, marketed and distributed the products you're buying.

Likewise you may find a nice locally owned store, owned by wonderful people you dearly love, but the products they sell are made a zillion miles away using slave labor hiring practices.  Their store isn't owned by some MegaCorp but the products they're selling are made by MegaCorp's.  Right?  A large fraction of the money spent at such a lovely locally owned store still gets siphoned out by the MegaCorp's manufacturing the products.

The ideal is - locally made gizmo - locally owned store - locally produced raw materials.  Obviously you won't be able to do this with every economic transaction you make.  Every time you buy something you vote with your dollars.  Each purchase.  The MegaCorp's look at purchasing trends to determine what to do.  It isn't just about a "Buy Local" preference, because there could well be wonderful products produced zillions of miles away.  What kind of products, what kind of production methods, what kind of ecological side effects do you want to support?  If we all are careful about what we buy and where we shop it can produce dramatic changes.