And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair. ~ Kahlil Gibran



Monday, December 17, 2007

Moral Dilemma

I firmly believe that it is important to support local business. Too often, the big companies come in and small businesses collapse because they just can't compete (even YOU can't argue with that one, bro).

See, that's where my dilemma comes in. I would prefer to shop at the local markets, but I be a po' gal. I hate to say it, but when I can save 25%-50% just by going to the huge store, it gets really hard to remember that the local shop owners need my business too.

So what do you all think? What is more important? Frugality for the sake of my family or buying local to support the local economy?

I know I will have to make this decision daily, based on my $$ situation and what is available, but I would really like to know what you all think.....

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

why do you think I'm all for big business? goofball. The fact is that if a small business can fulfill a niche that the big businesses can't then they'll succeed.

I'll buy from certain big companies on a regular basis, while others I refuse to even go into unless its an emergency.

barefoot gardener said...

I was referring to the fact that, though I love you, you do not agree with hardly any of my (for the lack of a better word) political beliefs. I was saying that even people of widely different beliefs could agree that small business is important. Doofus.

And as for your comment that "The fact is that if a small business can fulfill a niche that the big businesses can't then they'll succeed.", I don't know that that is true. I don't think there are that many "niches" left. Big business is taking over all of them.

Lisa said...

*Now, children, play nice!*

I try to shop locally whenever possible, but I understand the dilemma. My local small town grocery stores suck, have no produce to speak off (unless you are looking for pig food) and have indifferent staff. So, I go further afield to the Krogers or Walmart.

But I do frequent as many local places (gas station, McD's, etc) as I can, even if they are a little more expensive. But, they have to have what I'm looking for, in at least decent condition.

Catty Ax Lady said...

Daily struggle here too! Although it pains me to walk into a huge chain store to get something I need at a decent price, I try to tell myself that I'm paying wages for their employees too. I guess it hurts me more to see my money go to some spoiled, indifferent little punk than to a hard-working, personable, everyone-knows-there-name kind of local owner.

Bottom line is, you recognize the fact that local = important. I think that if you do it as much as your budget allows, you're helping to do your part.

e4 said...

I wrote about this very problem a while back. Unfortunately, I don't know the answer. Sometimes we sacrifice something we like for Something Important. Sometimes we don't or can't. It just depends on priorities and values and motivation and circumstance. And sometimes there's an Option C that beats both A and B, but it's hard to find...

Gina said...

Also struggle with the dilemma...

I try my very hardest to shop small, local first, but time and money constraints lead me right through the doors of the big boxes. And, like Catty Ax Lady I try to remember I am buying for the employees (even if it is CEOs that benefit the most.)

This season has been very hard for me because my time seems to have disappeared (in the past I was a field biologist and I had Dec-Jan completely off!!! Less money, but lots more time which I find more valuabe than money). Now I work in a mini-metro that only has two stores: Wally World and Dollar Tree. Oh, and Dollar General. I have found myself going into WM a whole lot more than I ever have in the past out of convenience.

I should do a post in response over at La Blog because I am writing a book here {sorry}. In summary, I think we are all struggling with the same dilemma. This is where a community of sorts would help as we could reduce our spending by sharing some things (like tools)IMHO, but we like minds are spread out all over the place geographically speaking!

barefoot gardener said...

Lisa-
This IS playing nice! We are sibs, after all.

Cat-
Yeah, that's about what I am figuring.

e4-
Wow! I haven't been over to your peak oil site for a while (shame on me) and I am VERY IMPRESSED! That bit you wrote was fabulous.

Gina-
Part of my problem, like you, is lack of local places to shop. Within walking distance there are just a very few shops, and they either don't carry what you are looking for or the price is several times what you would pay at one of the big stores.

I have to travel 6-7 miles to get to any of the stores that really carry what I need on a daily basis. I know it would be farther if I lived in the country, but I am trying to drive less, too. It is frustrating, to say the least.

Anonymous said...

Its not an easy niche to fill but it is in fact possible. Look at Perkins and Peoples, cub and the bakery (okay that one is a stretch). I think it will be interesting to see the fates of the two gas stations in your town. The recent developments could really impact the sales, and possibly gas prices.

on AM coast to coast this weekend when I was driving home from minnetonka they were talking about this exact issue. I thought it was hilarious you chose to blog about it.

Deb said...

Getting in to this a little late, but I agonize over going to Wally and Sams Club. I try to shop our local grocery store as often as possible, but we can save significant money buying certain items at Sam's. And like I found out last week there just is no local alternative for buying clothing here.

Kati said...

Honestly, as much as I hate to say it, if it comes down to "being able to eat" OR "supporting small business", I always side with "being able to eat". If you can't afford the food anyway, what good does it do to shop in a locally owned place. On the other hand, I buy my jewelry from a locally owned jewelry store (with all the pretties made on site by the jewelers there). I try to buy my books in a locally owned bookstore (instead of going into B&N, though they DO have a great selection). My stop for jeans was Walmart, until they stopped carrying my favorite brand. There are some times one just has to suck it up & give one's business to the big-box stores. On the other hand, do what you can about shopping with the locally owned, when it's an option. But don't fret if it's NOT an option.

Gardener Greg said...

This is a really good question. Sometimes I shop at the little stores just because I like the personal attention that I get when I go there. I don't care if it costs more. There is more to life than money and I am starting to think that less money is better. To a certain point that is. :)

barefoot gardener said...

A. Nony-
The Cub/Bakery comparison is worthless, as Cub sells products from the Bakery. So does the grocer here in town and up in Braham, last I checked. They are branching out a lot.

I can't really argue with the Perkins/Peoples thing, but those folks are getting older by the day, and there isn't much "new blood" to replace them. How much longer do you think that will last?

Deb-
You are never late, always on time. I know what you mean about local clothes. Our only local source is very elitist, and I just don't care to shop there.

Kati-
My thoughts exactly. Make sure the fam is fed, then worry about the rest.

barefoot gardener said...

Greg-
Sorry, didn't mean to leave you out! We must have posted at the same time.

Too often around here there isn't that personal attention, even in the small stores. That is another of my pet peeves, the death of good customer service, but I will save that for another time.

Wendy said...

For me, it depends on what I'm looking to buy, but more and more, I'll opt for the "local" place over the chain store, even if the price is higher. For instance, I could get two pairs of jeans at Wal-Mart for what it costs for one pair at L.L. Bean, but the L.L. Bean jeans are guaranteed. You don't get that from Wal-Mart. But, for me, the bigger question has become one of "need" versus "want." Sure, I *could* buy two pairs of jeans, but do I *need* two pairs of jeans? The answer is usually no, and so the lower price alone won't get me in the door. Plus, the quality of product at some of those chain discount stores (*cough*Wal-Mart*cough) is substandard compared with other stores selling even the same brand name. Wal-Mart practices heavily in "planned obsolescence." If they offer you something at a price you can't pass up, even if it breaks two months after you buy it, you'll buy it again ... at a price that seems like a bargain. But, buy the same thing somewhere else for more, and it lasts and lasts and lasts ... well, over time, you've actually SAVED money.

My biggest weakness, though, is books and DVDs, and I've found several places to buy these used - small, locally owned shops. So, I save money AND support the local economy.

My biggest expenditure is food, and I'll buy local over every other option, regardless of price. But what I've found is that by not getting a lot of processed foods, we have a ton to eat, even with some things being much more expensive, and we're actually saving money - if you can believe that ;).

I guess I've adopted the "do I need it?" attitude, which has saved me a lot of money and has enabled me to be a lot more selective about where I shop.

jenny said...

If I am not too late to add to this..

Living where I do, in the mountains, the closest local food store is a half hour drive to Food Lion. I shop there mostly and we do most of our business with local stores in town, like oil changes and the farm stand. Being tight on money, we get our diapers and a few basics from Walmart, but we have to drive 45 minutes to get there.

We buy most of our clothes, books and movies secondhand. That is cheaper than any store, period! And you can look for labels if you are a label whore at the thrift shop. Might walk out empty handed if you shop like that, but me, I'm happy to find something in my size! But there have been plenty of times when I walked out with a Ralph Lauren Polo shirt for $4, or a pair of Levi's for $6, so I don't complain!

Bottom line, do what feels right to you. Balance it out and buy local when quality counts and shop cheap for basics...

barefoot gardener said...

Wendy-
I have noticed the "poor quality" issue myself.

I agree with you on the "need vs. want" thing, but with kids it always seems that we need SOMETHING! And with my crafting addictions and such....well, you get the picture. I suppose I just need to be stricter with myself.

I would love to cook more from scratch, as you do (I am SO ENVIOUS), but it takes time to learn, and my family is not in agreement with me on the whole "live lightly" thing. They want their hamburger helper and mac'n'cheese. Not that I let them have it often, but you get the idea. They get a little leery when I start cracking out "healthy" recipes and "real" ingredients, so I am trying to slowly adjust them to the idea.

Jenny-
Wow! I don't think you have commented before...WELCOME! I am digging on your Santas, and wish you well with #4.

I think you hit on a big issue. If you have to travel too far to get to the big store, any savings is lost due to the high cost of gas.

I, too, like to shop thrift stores. I am beginning to dust off my sewing skills so that I can take some of the great finds and make them fit a bit better for me. I usually do books and movies from the thrift store, too.

The coolest thing about thrift stores is that it feeds my "craftiness"!