Buying local is just as important as buying Fair Trade. It is important to pour back into the local economy and support smaller businesses. No matter if you live in a large city or a small town, there are some great benefits from buying from a local establishment.
1. Buying local gives back to the local economy-If you are buying your food from a local farmers’ market, you know where the food is coming from and you are supporting the farmers with your purchase. This in turns keeps their business sustainable and allows them to purchase from other local businesses. Various articles have shown that money that is spent in local businesses, a greater percentage of that money stays in the local economy (You can check out a few here, here, and here).
2. You get uniqueness-I do not like being the same as everyone who is around me. I like to find unique items to wear, to decorate, to build and to give. It is like treasure hunting in your own community, you never know what you will find. I am usually pleasantly surprised at how many amazing artists there are in my community and the really cool items I accumulate.
3. A deeper sense of community-If you are buying from local establishments, you get to know those that run the business. Talk to the owners, understand what their process is and how they invest in their business. The purpose of buying Fair Trade and buying locally is not just to invest our money in things, but it is to invest in people and to support one another. This is one of the many things I love about HandUp Global Goods. We invest in these boys that create these beautiful bracelets. One of our boys, Reginald, never dreamed that he could make a living doing something that he loved; making beautiful things. Those that have met him (and I cannot wait to meet him myself) say that he is inspiring to watch as he works quickly but with the greatest care. In fact, one of our bracelets are named after him, the Reginald! He is eager and loves to come up with his own designs. Six years ago, Reginald was living on the streets, struggling for survival as a young boy, now he is a designer and one of HandUp’s top artisans!
Farmers’ Markets are some of my favorite places to shop. There is usually good produce but there are also other establishments out there that make various things. The last one I went to, I found a man that made pottery. Specifically, coffee mugs (I know, I’m addicted) and bowls. They were beautiful. There was also a husband and wife team selling really cute woodwork. The prices were fair and it is always neat when you know the story behind what you buy. I have been an avid Farmers’ Market shopper for a long time. I love buying fresh fruit and vegetables and I am a sucker for homemade jelly (Mayhaw is my FAVORITE-seriously, put that on a fresh biscuit with some butter and your life will never be the same). I also have various pieces of furniture around my house that I have purchased and revamped in some way.
Buying Fair Trade and buying locally are both great ways to spend your money. Maybe what you are looking for is not available as a Fair Trade item, but maybe there is some local business that has that item. And the same can be true in the reverse. When you are looking to make any purchase, ask yourself, “Can I buy this locally? Can I buy this Fair Trade?” This is also a great time of year because there are so many Holiday Markets available. A good place to look for these markets in your area would be to check out your Chamber of Commerce page, local churches’ websites, and/or the local schools’ websites. Go check them out, talk to the vendors, get to know their story and SHOP!