To me “shop local” means more then just looking for local produce in the nearby chain grocery store. It means more then shopping at the local farmer’s market (which I do so love). It means supporting the little guy. It means choosing the local independent store, over the nearby big box store.
|Photo Credit: Sam Saunders|
Recently, my parents closed down the family business. The business my great–grandfather began over 50 years ago. The business where my dad worked for thirty-some years. One of the main factors in deciding to close shop was my dad’s health. He was diagnosed with congestive heart failure a little over a year ago. However, that certainly wasn’t the only deciding factor. They just weren’t doing that well.
They sold office furniture. High end, quality, office furniture. Over the last 15 years or so, as more big box stores cropped up something became apparent. A small independent retailer cannot compete with a big chain like Staples, Cost co or Walmart. You are pretty much guaranteed to be able to find a cheaper computer chair at your nearby chain store. What you won’t get from a chain store is the same level of service that you get from the Mom & Pop place. You will also probably end up settling for a lower quality product.
When someone bought an office chair from my Dad’s shop if the mechanism went, or they needed new casters or whatnaught, they could come back into the store and get replacement parts or possibly a repair. If someone lost the keys that went to the lock on their file cabinet, my dad could help them out. You could also custom order just about anything in the store. He worked with designers to match fabrics and wood samples. All of the items in his store carried that little “Made in Canada” sticker. His stuff might have cost a bit more, but part of that was the fact that he was unwilling to carry inferior products.
Now, go to one of these big box stores and buy a chair. A year later when you have a problem with it try and bring it back and see what happens. I’m pretty darn certain they are not going to be able or willing to help you. They are going to try and sell you a new chair. That’s their job. They are there to sell you more new stuff.
It ties in with the send-it-to-the-dump-and-buy-a-new-one consumerism that seems to be the main stream way of life now-a-days. Personally, I’d rather spend more on a quality product that is going to last, than buy the cheap one and replace it within two years. And for the most part you are going to find that higher quality product at an independent retailer.
So I’d rather go with the little guy. I’d rather support the small independent retailer, not just because I like to see money staying in my community, but also because I know I’m probably going to end up with a higher quality product and better customer service. I’d rather buy my produce at the farmer’s market, but I’d also rather buy my kids toys at Teach ‘N’ Toys , get my internet access from MNSi, buy my toddlers cloth training pants from Sweetheart Diapers, and the list goes on. I’d rather support the little guy, so he will still be there when I need him next time.
What about you? What does “shop local” mean to you? What are some of your favourite smaller retailers?