Building Healthy Financial Communities
As early as a generation or two ago, most small towns were a good deal more self-sufficient than they are today. Before the Age of the Automobile really got underway, most people walked from their homes to the services that they needed, and it was not unusual for even a small town to have doctor and dental office, several mom-and-pop groceries, a clothing and shoe store and a movie theatre, just to name a few. Today, people often travel much further afield to purchase necessary goods and services, often spending their money at “big box” chain stores that take money out of the community rather than putting in back in. Below are some good reasons to consider spending more of your money locally.
Support the Uniqueness of Your Community
In any country anywhere, it is the nature of small family farms and small, locally-owned businesses that give a particular town its individual character. It is the really great café on the town square, the funky little vintage clothing store or gallery around the corner, are unique to each particular town and differentiate it from other towns around it. Perhaps one of the greatest losses that culture has sustained in recent decades is the homogenization of culture that comes with chain restaurants, hotels and stores that look exactly the same no matter where they are located and which rob towns of their feeling of individuality and the special quirks and idiosyncrasies which make them what they are.
Strengthen Your Local Economy
There are sound economic reasons to shop locally, apart from the emotional or aesthetic ones. Spending money at locally owned businesses and farms and prevent your home town from becoming a “ghost town” and can nourish and support the creation of good jobs that will keep families and young people in town and help slow the mass flight to the cities to look for jobs that has become an issue all over the world. One economist compared money to blood: money spent locally is like circulation, bring nutrients to the cells that need it; money spent elsewhere is like the outward flow of blood from a wound – it can, in short, be debilitating and sometimes even fatal.
How to Begin?
Some people are so accustomed to shopping at “big box” stores that they are not sure how to do anything else. To begin with, hit your yellow pages or Chamber of Commerce website to find out what local stores and farms are in your area or simply walk or drive downtown to see what is available. Do you have a farmer’s market? Head down there next time it’s on and indulge yourself in the joys of fresh fruits, vegetables, meats and honey. Has your washing machine just died? Check out the appliance store on the corner and see if they will deliver and install a new one for you. Is your niece’s wedding coming up? Trying finding a dress or a new set of earrings in that little boutique on the town square.
You don’t have to start big. Just start. Really explore the town you are living in, ask around and gradually you will start finding more and more ways to put your hard-earned money back into your own community to support and nourish it.