by Kirby LindsayFor those who line-up outside the multi-mega-store with turkey-breath, long before dawn has considered being cracked, on the Friday after Thanksgiving Day, this idea may be too radical. However, those who will wander out only after establishing that the leftovers taste just as delicious for breakfast as lunch, may be ready to embrace November 26th – also known as “Black Friday” – as the day to celebrate “National Buy Local Week.” How ‘bout, this year, we wander and explore local stores, independently owned shops and refreshments at restaurants where the owner has a personal stake in our steak?
Christine Hanna, co-Director of the Seattle Good Business Network, accepts that shopping happens. “We all know we are going to spend some money at this time,” she said. To that end, the Seattle Network is building an on-line ‘Holiday Shopping Guide’, that lists Buy Local Week events in this area, and a number of incentives, craft shows, trunk shows, swaps and opportunities that make it easy, and fun, to shop local.
Shop Locally, and Shop Sustainably
The Seattle Good Business Network follows the model of the Business Alliance for Local Living, or BALLE, and formerly was called BALLE Seattle. A membership organization of locally owned and independently operated businesses, members collaborate, connect, promote and get empowered within the network.
“If you want a strong, sustainable economy that is connected to a strong, sustainable community,” she explained, “you need to support local, independent businesses.” She helps her member companies to access local suppliers, and build partnerships, that will cause them to grow stronger, together. Yet, the consumer also takes part in the connection.
“You have a choice to make in where you shop,” Hanna pointed out, and the chance to line-up our actions with the beliefs we hold. Consumers can let the local stores where they shop – or want to shop – know what they want to buy, and the prices they will pay. “We’re supporting them to the same point they are supporting us,” Hanna illustrated, as with developing local parks, schools, and government, we need to communicate our desires to get “what I want in my community.”
A Few Reasons Why
Hanna, and the Seattle Network, have lists of reasons to shop locally, including –
1. Local owners have a stake in the local economy – they are vested here, and invested here
2. More money spent in local businesses will be spent locally 3. Fewer environmental impacts – in general, independent businesses tend to source locally and have smaller environmental footprints
4. Locally owned businesses have more discretion about business decisions – often that allows more flexibility with special requests
5. More personal service – as customers often speak with the owner, or one person from the owner – and encounter more appreciation for customer loyalty
6. Locally made products come from local people, reflect local interests and respond to local needs – and local culture
“Consuming has become a form of entertainment,” Hanna allowed. Certainly those who will storm the stores at sunrise on Friday must either find shopping entertaining, or desire penance. “If you are looking for entertainment,” Hanna advised, “shopping locally is much more entertaining than going to the mall at 4 a.m.”
This year, wander down Fremont way, and check out one of the many locally owned and independently operated shops, boutiques, restaurants or galleries. The Center of the Universe may not feature the same low-price, mass market, fad item that everyone else is purchasing this year – but while chatting with the neighbor that works behind the counter, and living sustainably, it is possible to encounter a gift with so much more to give!
©2010 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.