Shop Small For Your Community’s Sake

By Stephanie Haines

Buy local. This may seem like a trendy buzz phrase, but it is something that’s important to think about. How, and where, you spend your money can have an enormous impact on the place you live, work and play.

With the Shopping Olympics upon us from now through the end of the year, we really need to get a grip on where our money is going. If actions speak louder than words, then money positively shouts to the rest of the world.

Do you want to further enrich distant multimillionaire CEOs of big-box stores who make their staff work on Thanksgiving? Or would you prefer your money go to the small business owner who lives in your neighborhood who also coaches your kids’ soccer team?

Either way, you have a choice. Your decision could mean life or death to a local business. How many times I have heard someone lament the closing of a local restaurant or shop, but when probed, the speakers admit they never really went there but, you know, they meant to.

“But wow,” they might say, “it’s just so much less expensive to go to one of those big stores.” That’s very probably true. When stuff is made overseas by people who aren’t given a living wage, then the result is cheap goods. While the price tag may be lower, we pay the cost in other ways.

When you insist on the lowest price for everything, then nothing will be made here because it’s too expensive. Then consumers won’t be able to afford domestic products because their jobs got relocated to someplace with a lower cost of labor. Then the only thing they can afford is imported, mass-produced items from franchise retailers.

Kind of a vicious cycle, isn’t it? Sometimes you get what you pay for. In this case, if you shop at generic chain stores, you’ll end up with an area that is just like every other place. And the profits go to the pockets of absent executives rather than to your friends in the community.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Besides keeping the money here, shopping locally means you won’t have to drive elsewhere and fight crowds at huge stores. If you really want to get into the spirit, you could do something crazy like walk to an in-town store. Then you could finish off your day at a neighborhood restaurant. A trifecta of keeping it local.

It is true that if you buy things that are more expensive then you can’t buy as much.

But it’s also possible that if you buy items of higher quality to begin with, then you do not have to replace them as frequently, saving money in the long run. On a philosophical level, you might realize that you don’t really need as much as you once thought you did.

On the fun side, local means unique. Small business owners have the opportunity to be innovative in ways that wouldn’t be possible if they worked for large corporations. They can customize their products and services to meet your needs. They likely will to work with you to get you what you want.

If you’re not aware of what local businesses our community has to offer, I’d suggest looking at the websites for the Greenfield Area Chamber of Commerce and Greenfield Main Street (; Also, watch for churches or civic organizations playing host to arts and craft fairs. And the winter farmers market meets the first and third Saturdays of the month at the Hancock County 4-H Fairgrounds, which is a great place for locally produced goods.

Buy local and be local.

Stephanie Haines is a Greenfield native. She can be contacted through her website, Send comments to

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