When we were in Arizona, we spent the majority of our time at my sister-in-law's house. There wasn't any reason for shopping, except to run to the grocery store a few times to get food to feed the 25 or so people who were there every night for dinner. But one day, we took a drive out to see Montezuma Castle.
On the trip out, we needed lunch and stopped at a local deli in a small town. On the ride back, we stopped at a roadside stand run by Native Americans for freshly cooked fry bread (yum) and to look at original art. I didn't buy any art, but if I had been struck by something, I would have.
I'm a big proponent of buying locally, even when I'm not home. I think it's important that when you're somewhere, you contribute to their local economy.
What good does buying locally do?
It stimulates the local economy - A 2002 study done in Texas showed that for every $100 that was spent in a chain bookstore, only $13 of it was put back into the local economy. But that same $100 spent at a local, independently owned bookstore put $45 back into the local economy. Think of that next time you're deciding to get your coffee from Starbucks or the local corner coffee house.
It helps locals keep their jobs - Most people who work in local businesses live locally. By buying from these places, you help your neighbors keep their jobs and that benefits your whole community.
Local businesses give back locally - Do you know who sponsors the little league and softball teams in your town? I do. The local corner coffee house, the corner bar, the independent ice cream parlor (is it beginning to sound like I live in Mayberry? Actually, I kind of do!). I also know who donates gift certificates and baskets when the PTA is holding an auction or someone is holding a beef and beer night to raise money for a local cancer patient. It's the same businesses who sponsor my sons' sports teams. By supporting these businesses, I help ensure that they can support the community.
It's good for the environment - Less auto emissions occur when you're going only a few blocks (you could even walk or ride your bike) for what you need that traveling miles away to a big box store. If enough people buy locally, it could actually prevent a big box store, which usually devours open space and requires new roads to be built, from infiltrating your community.
If you're buying locally grown food, its really good for the environment because you're helping the small farmers to keep their farms operational instead of shutting down and selling to developers. There are so many reasons to buy locally grown food that I'll have to write a separate post.
It promotes a sense of community - If you want to get to know your neighbors and others in your community, supporting the local businesses is a great way to get to know others. Going into my local coffee house is like walking into Cheers. I know the baristas and they know my name, there's one guy who is always there who always knows more about what I'm talking about than I do (or so he thinks), I run into other stay at home moms during the day (there are more of us out there and happy about it than Hillary wants to admit!), and the coffee is really good.
Most of us are about to get our government stimulus checks (I'll give you a major shout out on this blog if you can explain to me where exactly the government is getting this money to give to us). The powers that be hope that people spend that money to help stimulate the economy. Now, I'm not saying you should spend this money, but I'm suggesting that if you do, you spend some of it right in your own community.