Buy Local

By Hannah Wallace February 28, 2009

It was former Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill who told us all politics is local. He was suggesting that those things which most impact people happen in their own communities. Based upon that premise, one can also say that all economics is local. If so, each of us can actually make a difference in helping our local economy come back.

It starts with the incredibly basic concept that when people have jobs, they spend money. When they spend money, they help the companies from whom they buy stay in business and keep employees. And people with jobs hopefully save and/or invest some of their money and help other companies (like financial institutions) and so on. You get the rest.

If a sound economy is characterized by a healthy, unbroken cycle of jobs and spending or saving/investing, each of us can help. Undoubtedly, in this current crisis we need the government to do the heavy lifting in terms of stimulating consumer demand for goods and services. But we can make a contribution to help maintain jobs by buying from local businesses. Buying local is not just a catchy phrase and a noble ideal. It’s an imperative if we care about the health of our local businesses. By local, I’m referring to any business that employs local people who spend money from their compensation here in Sarasota and Manatee counties. It really doesn’t matter one iota where that company’s headquarters are located. It matters a ton whether or not that company provides local jobs, and the more jobs it supplies the better. 

So as tempting as it is to buy online or to purchase items when traveling or to buy a car from an out-of-town dealer when all those items are sold here, we should think local first. And if it seems overly altruistic and a violation of all our ingrained senses to shop for the best price, we ought to think about what it would cost us if local businesses began to close at an increasing rate. To what levels our currently depressed real estate values might plummet. To what quality of life we’d have if we lived in a decaying community. If we pay another $15 for a shirt or $7 for a book or $150 for a $35,000 car, we’re helping our community and ultimately ourselves. And in business we should be using local ad agencies, law firms, accountants, banks, office supply firms, Web design firms, builders, architects and so on.

The power to save jobs resides here. Let’s harness it and invest in us.

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