It’s [N]either Here [N]or There! Buying Locally versus Big Box or Online Buying
By Sandy McCall
We pretty much live in a world where most of our lives are dictated by the use of computers, even though some of us may resist this at times. So given this reality, how do we spend our money and who do we (really) support ?
The answer is quite personal and seems for most to be a matter of balancing cost, convenience, health benefits with loyalty and support for our communities and its members! It’s a big question and I hope to give you ideas here so that you can pursue what might fit into your own life. There is no right or wrong answer here.
The decision about where to buy is quite simple if you are only looking at where the businesses are located and where their owners and employees may work and live. And even though supporting local jobs through our purchases is important, there is a bigger question for some.
Buying locally is important to some people because the products are produced locally versus buying online or in big box stores where most of the products are not produced locally; in addition, the workers at these companies do not live or work in our local communities and perhaps not even in our country.
So personally, I have the ongoing question in my mind about how I will navigate through this world of choices in a way that makes the most sense for my life. I like to support local producers and business owners first, NC products and companies next and US products and companies as well. And I am less likely to support products produced out of the country, but my life sometimes dictates that I make this exception.
Did you know? Zuma Gold Cookies are produced in Marshall NC and distributed in WNC?
How many of these things are you willing or able to do in your busy life or feel are important to your well being:
- grow all of your own food
- raise animals for fiber, meat and dairy
- spin your fiber and make your clothing
- produce your own cleaning and personal supplies
- generate your own energy for electricity and heat
- ride a bike instead of driving the car
- and the list goes on …
We all need the basics—food, clothing, housing and I’ll add that we need other people as well! I don’t imagine many of us do all of this, but I imagine we can find local people who do much of this work for us.
Did you know? Echoview Farm and Echoview Fiber Mill are located in Weaverville.
FOOD BUYING IDEAS: The food that I buy is important to my health and it is important to me to grow and/or buy organic food from local farms but it is not realistic for me to do it with each and every item, so I do my best!
Did you know? Burt’s Bees says “over 95% of our products are made right in our own manufacturing plant in Durham, NC. The rest are made by other respectable American manufacturers.”
We can buy many products and services very locally through tailgate markets (many of which run all year ‘round), local farms and specialty businesses in our communities. My small community has farms that produce food, fiber, clothing, candles, soaps and more. Many times the larger stores, such as grocery stores, carry locally, regionally or NC produced or grown items, but it takes a bit more time to investigate. (Try this website for NC products: www.gottobenc.com OR www.manufacturednc.com/directory where you can find information about a lot of NC companies.)
Did you know? You can search for tailgate markets in your town or area!
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a good option to support if you don’t grow your own veggies or need more than you can grow. Here’s a website that explains CSA farms and how to choose the best one for you.
If I can eat in restaurants that offer “healthier” food and the ones that buy their veggies and meat locally, all the better. Although this website does not seem to guarantee that all “Farm to Table” restaurants are just that, it seems that the restaurants listed here make a concerted effort to buy local. Tupelo Honey Café made the top ten list of farm to table restaurants in the US by Epicurious.
Did you know? AdvantageWest.com is the home to many local producers and more! Five core areas including Advanced Manufacturing, Entrepreneurial Development, Blue Ridge Food Ventures, Natural Products Manufacturing Facility, Advantage Green, and WNC Film Commission.
CLOTHING BUYING IDEAS: I was pleased to find so many companies in NC who are textile and apparel manufacturers and some in and around Asheville—there may be more! Check out this website and type in the NC town or county that you want to search and the type of business you are looking for.
Did you know? Spiritex clothing is designed in Asheville, North Carolina and handmade within 120 miles of downtown Asheville.
HOUSING AND REMODELING IDEAS: If you Google “Asheville NC area builders and contractors” you will find many options for builders and people doing remodeling and if it is important to you, you can ask them if they are truly local or part of a larger corporation originating outside of this area.
When you are ready to do your next remodeling, repair or building project, you might look at this website to find companies producing building materials and products in America. The only NC company I found was Moen and it is not clear that they produce everything here in NC.
It is important to me to use locally owned service companies as well for any work I might do on my house, car and for personal and animal care. I generally just ask the question of the company as to whether their company originates in this area or is a large chain. And sometimes it is obvious!
Did you know? Asheville is home to 11 (and counting) craft breweries.
The next thing that we might look at is whether the company produces products that are American made. This gives us lots of choices yet finding the information easily is sometimes a challenge! I will try to give you some resources here!
Did you know? Gaia Herbs is located in Brevard, NC, and available nationally? Another local medicinal herb company is Red Moon Herbs, and Blue Ridge Food Ventures offers facilities for local producers.
This is a good time for an information disclaimer. There are many existing local, NC and American companies that I have not included here because of space constraints. I have researched to the best of my ability yet I am somewhat at the mercy of the information that I receive from the web … and for those of you who believe that everything you read online is correct, think again!
And what happens when you are ready to buy your next car, computer, appliance, television or other electronic? Then we might be challenged by the “buy local” plan but perhaps we can buy brands that are American made. Go to MadeInUSA.org (this site also includes cars) and AmericansWorking.com and FindAmericanMadeProducts.com to find lists of products produced in America. I was surprised to see some well-known brands here.
Did you know? Moog produces electronics, instruments and clothing, all made in Asheville NC!
So one way to manage all of this is to create a list of the things you do each day, week, month and year and prioritize them according to the importance TO YOU! Then match your list with the businesses and products that serve you and your lifestyle best. Remember to be easy with yourself and choose the things that are important to you and that fit into your life!
Just do your best! No one can ask more!
Sandy McCall is the owner of Southern Life Realty. Contact her at 828-273-9755 or Sandy@SouthernLifeRealty.com.