Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Idea #1: Shop More Wisely, Redux
So, I'm kind of interested to find out what I'm thinking about all these ideas a few weeks later (yes, I do have to read my own blog to find out what I think - I'm that much of a mystery to myself). Each seemed so crucial and vital when they were first written. Life has intervened, some have worked out, others have not or at least not in the way I had imagined. Others probably just need more time.
That first idea was inspired by the accompanying image and was reinforced knowing so many people who have created work and meaning in their lives by building a business. I think it is right and good to support those people and I also think that it is probably a decent way of redistributing wealth more equitably, at least at the service/retail sector level. Big box stores do hire more people, and some even pay more as a wage, but the "owner" is actually a corporation so the profits are leaving my community and if they're a multi-armed entity, the profits may actually be re-invested into businesses and practices that I actually don't want to be supporting. When I support a local, independent business I can be fairly certain that the profits are being returned to at the very least a neighbour, and hopefully at least being re-invested into their children or house or whatever.
A friend emailed this week pointing out that if you don't live in an urban setting where the goods and services you need are available, the costs to the environment and your own opportunity cost may be so high that it is actually more beneficial to centralize your shopping in one spot even if that spot isn't home to independent businesses. I'm not sure (or willing to do the research to become sure) how one figures all that out but it is worthy of investigation if anyone is interested.
For us, most of our daily needs can be met locally. The grocery situation has not changed much: Thrifty's weekly, Costco monthly and Apple Market (local, walkable - independently owned? I'm not sure. Buddhakind, do you know?) every 10 days or so. It turns out that Costco isn't a terrible choice on the wage/employee decency scale and is at least better than the alternatives (namely Superstore and Walmart in my 'hood). Thrifty's is a mixed bag. Excellent experience for me as a shopper and employees seem happy but I haven't had the nerve to ask yet if it's really okay. Their rate my employer page is full of rants (as they are wont to be), but their "I work at Thrifty's" facebook page is more positive. No getting around having to ask I guess.
We did end up choosing local and independent for our tires. SJ had a conversation with a co-worker who moonlights in construction about why they both thought it was important to shop up here and it really helped solidify our decision. We also chose locally-sourced windows for our small renovation on that same principle. It's expensive though ($400+ for the tires, I don't know what on the windows) and a choice that only those of us with relatively flexible discretionary income can manage. All the more reason to keep choosing that when we can I think, but some days it hurts. A lot.
Christmas shopping is going to be a trick. In particular, I'm flummoxed by socks and underwear. There is no local purveyor of said items that I can think of, and the local-ish options are all big box corporate folks. I think this will be a matter of choosing the lesser of several evils - I'm definitely looking for input on this one, so comment away with ideas and suggestions.
Does anyone else have any experiences or thoughts about trying to move to more local shopping?
Oh, and finally, just because I know awesome people who are independent business owners, shop this way this week, k?