As we near the end of January, and the New Year's resolutions we optimistically established begin to fade, I am hoping that the popular resolution of shopping locally is one that turns from a resolution into a life-style.
In today's fast-paced life, it is easy to press a few buttons on a computer and buy anything from books to shoes to car insurance. But what are we sacrificing and saving in the long run? It is my opinion that when we shop on-line we may assume we are getting the best price, but this is certainly not always true.
In an un-scientific study, I decided to go on-line and shop for a book at both Barnes and Noble and on-line at our local book seller, The Toadstool Bookshops of Keene, Milford, and Peterborough NH. The book I was looking for was Caleb's Crossing. This book was $17.96 at Barnes and Noble and $18.87 at Toadstool. This is just a $.91 difference. In doing a quick comparison of shoes, I went on-line and saw that the women's Professional Prism Dansko's at the ShoeBox in Amherst NH were advertised for $115.99 and $134.95 on Amazon!
Of course I also priced-out my car insurance on-line and comparing apples-to-apples, the quote I received from an un-named lizard was $129 more than what I am currently paying with Holt Proctor McBriarty Insurance Agency.
I am not saying that shopping locally is always going to be less expensive, but there are many benefits to shopping within your community that go beyond a price tag. This includes knowing the people from which you are buying.
If you need to file a claim, do you want to have to go through endless phone menus and automated messages, or would you rather sit across a desk, face-to-face, with someone you know has you in their best interest? If you have a question or concern with your insurance policy, you may have to call the company a few times. If you buy insurance from a local insurance agency, you don't have to explain yourself each time - you deal with the same person every time you call. That is a relationship that goes beyond the wallet.
I once heard that 50% of every dollar spent local, stays local. Though I am not able to confirm this fact, the logic does hold up as cited in this 2009 story printed in Time magazine called Buying Local: How It Boosts the Economy.
Buying local is a concept that is often aligned with farmers markets, but in addition to the local farmers market, I think that it would benefit everyone within our community to look at all of the things we buy and consider the local alternative. Who knows, you may even save money to boot!