“Buying Locally” from big businesses makes sense too

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I’m a big fan of buying locally. For items like food at a farmer’s market, there are huge benefits to the buyer, seller, and community:

  • Buyer: Healthier food that has not been siting in a warehouse or trailer bed for days or weeks
  • Seller: Lower costs of shipping and disintermediation
  • Community: Stimulates local economy by keeping more money in the community; reduces externalities like fossil fuels

While Seattle has double digit farmers markets, there isn’t a similar rally around other products and services based in the Seattle area, especially for big, locally-based companies. The number of iPhones in this town is shocking, as Seattleites spurn local companies HTC, Microsoft, and T-Mobile. Nobody’s selecting their airline tickets based on if the plane is a Boeing or Airbus. People weren’t flocking to wear Eddie Bauer during the company’s recent struggles.

While the benefits of “Buy Local” aren’t as big or obvious for products other than food, the community benefits just as much. It keeps more money in the local economy. It generates more jobs, keeping the local economy healthy. And a healthier Seattle economy reduces unemployment, increases salaries, and improves home values.

Buying locally doesn’t always make sense. For instance, if the price is significantly higher, your personal cost might outweigh the benefits to the community. But in instances where there is little/no cost difference, “Buying Locally” is the way to go.

I’ve already been instituting a change. When I moved here I got a T-Mobile phone. Bing is my default search engine. And my shopping on Amazon.com has increased, to the detriment of other ecommerce sites. Can I go further? Sure. But it’s a good start.

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