Archive for Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Buying Locally

Keyta Kelly is the director of the 2010 and 2011 Kansas Sampler Festival. She recently set up the main festival office downtown.

Keyta Kelly is the director of the 2010 and 2011 Kansas Sampler Festival. She recently set up the main festival office downtown.

September 30, 2009

Did you know that when you spend your money at locally owned businesses, the bulk of that money stays in our community and eventually comes back to you in one form or another? Of course, you did. It’s all the talk now, shop locally, be green, use less carbon footprints, etc.

But, what does it mean to “shop locally?” The dictionary defines local as, “In a nearby area, relating to, situated in, or providing a service for a particular area, especially the area near home or work.” So, if I were to live next to a Walmart or other big box store, when using this definition, I could boast that I shop locally when shopping there. Of course, I don’t do that, because I know that shopping at a Walmart or any other box store is not shopping locally. So, let’s come up with a different definition of the term “shop locally.”

Whenever anyone makes a lifestyle change, they first ask, “What’s in it for me?” If one decides to adopt the “shop local” life style, it’s because he/she sees a benefit to him or herself. So, how does shopping locally help you? Let’s use some examples.

I need a bar of soap. So, I go:

A. to Vintage Soap & Bath in downtown Tonganoxie and buy my soap. My soap costs $6. A percentage of my $6 in the form of sales tax will go to the state of Kansas. They will maintain U.S. Highway 24-40, support the state historical society and pay my legislator. Yet another percentage of my $6 in the form of sales and property tax will go to my local governmental entities. They will repair the pothole in front of my house, educate my neighbor’s daughter and put out the fire at the Johnson’s house. And still yet another percentage of my $6 will go the storeowner in the form of profit. She will buy goat’s milk from a local farmer, buy groceries from B&J Country Mart and school supplies from Tongie Office Supply. And finally, a percentage of my $6 in the form of wages will go to the guy down the street from you who works at Vintage Soap and Bath. He will pay rent to his local landlord, put gas in his car from B & J Amoco, and get a haircut from Paul’s Barber Shop.

B. to the Dollar General Store in Tonganoxie and buy my soap. My soap costs $2. A percentage of my $2 will go to my state government. They will maintain U.S. 24-40, support the state historical society and pay my legislator. A percentage of my $2 will go to my local governmental entities. They will repair the pothole in front of my house, educate my neighbor’s daughter and put out the fire at the Johnson’s house. A percentage of my $2 will go to the guy down the street from you who works at Dollar General. He will pay rent to his local landlord, put gas in his car from B&J Amoco and get a haircut from Paul’s Barber Shop. None of it will go to the storeowner. She will not be able to buy goat’s milk from a local farmer, buy groceries from B & J, or school supplies from Tongie Office Supply. Her percentage, instead, will go to the corporate office of Dollar General in Tennessee.

C. to Walmart in Bonner Springs and buy my soap. My soap costs $3. A percentage of my $3 will go to my state government. They will maintain U.S. Highway 24-40, support the state historical society and pay my legislator. None of my $3 will go to my local governmental entities. They will not be able to repair the pothole in front of my house, educate my neighbor’s daughter, or put out the fire at the Johnson’s house. That percentage instead will go to the Unified Government of Wyandotte County. None of it will go the local storeowner. She will not be able to buy goat’s milk from a local farmer, buy groceries from B&J or school supplies from Tongie Office Supply. That percentage instead, will go to the Corporate Office of Walmart in Arkansas. None of it will go to the guy down the street from you. He will not be able to pay rent to his local landlord, put gas in his car from B&J Amoco, or get a haircut from Paul’s Barber Shop. That percentage will instead go to some guy you don’t know in Wyandotte County.

D. to Zona Rosa to the Bed and Body Works there and buy my soap. My soap costs $5. My $5 is then gone — completely. I will never see that $5 again. None of it will go to my state government. They will not be able to maintain 24-40 highway, support the state historical society or pay my legislator. Instead that percentage will go to the state of Missouri. None of my $5 will go to my local governmental entities. They will not be able to repair the pot hole in front of my house, educate my neighbor’s daughter, or put out the fire at the Johnson’s house. That percentage instead will go to Jackson County, Missouri. None of it will go the local store owner. She will not be able to buy goat’s milk from a local farmer, buy groceries from B & J, or school supplies from Tongie Office Supply. That percentage instead, will go to the corporate office of Bath and Body Works in Ohio. None of it will go to the guy down the street from you. He will not be able to pay rent to his local landlord, put gas in his car from B&J Amoco, or get a haircut from Paul’s Barber Shop. That percentage will instead go to some guy you don’t know in Missouri.

If all you get out of the above scenarios is that it is less money out of your pocket to shop at a box store, out of county, or out of state, then, by all means, go ahead and don’t shop locally — save those few pennies. But don’t let me hear you complain when you step out of the front door of your house to see the blighted house down the street that the landlord couldn’t rent because his tenant lost his job … or when your tires need aligning from hitting that pothole one time too many … or when you need that quick last minute haircut, but the barbershop is closed for good … or when your printer runs out of ink in the middle of an important document and you have to drive all the way to Lawrence to replace it because the downtown office supply store is no longer in business … or your house, and not the Johnson’s, burns down because the fire department was underfunded. So, what’s in it for you when you shop locally?

Don’t fool yourself and define “shopping locally” by how close the store is to your home or office. Define it by how well does my money work for my neighbors and me. That’s what shopping locally is about.

Can you get everything you need in Tonganoxie? Probably not. But let’s “Think Local First” — take a moment before you buy something and ask yourself if there's a local source of whatever it is you are looking for. First, let’s shop at a locally owned store if we can; next, let’s shop at a locally situated store, then let’s shop at a Kansas store. By doing this, that dollar that we spend will come back to our pocket in one form or another.

If you don’t know where to shop for what you need and yet keep your dollars local, come to the Kansas Sampler Festival, where you will learn about all the products that are made and produced locally and across the state of Kansas. For more information about the Kansas Sampler Festival go to www.kansassamplerfestival.com or contact me at kssamplerfestlvco@sunflower.com; (913) 417-7575.

— Keyta D. Kelly, director, Kansas Sampler Festival 2010-11

Comments

sfreemyer 5 years, 1 month ago

My husband read this article out loud to me. What a great article. It was very informative and painted a very good picture of why we should all buy locally. It inspired us to do our own shopping in town last week. From now on, we will be shopping a few blocks away instead of down the road a bit.

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