On Good Intentions May 9, 2013Posted by Toy Lady in Musings, Rochester.
No, this isn’t going to be a mea culpa or a load of excuses about where I’ve been lately. I’ve been busy, I’ve been tired, and I’ve been blowing my nose a lot. Not much to talk about there, is there?
However, I did read an article the other day that made me stop and think about whether I’d pay more to support a local business.
Like most people these days, we generally try to be as budget-conscious (read: frugal) (re-read: cheap) as we can, although, again, like many people, we each have our, well, shall we say indulgences?
Currently, my biggest indulgence seems to be sock yarn. For every Christmas gift project I buy yarn for, I seem to be buying enough extra, “undesignated” yarn for at least a couple of pairs of socks.
So naturally, when the question was posed, I did stop and think – quite a bit. In this age of big-box stores and internet sales, it’s often almost impossible to get the “best price” locally anymore, unless you count the Walmart down the street as “local business,” though I don’t think anyone really does, do they?
I do realize that I’m fortunate to have access to our great Public Market – where farmers and other vendors gather year-round. Ah, but the key there is “vendors” – they’re not all local farmers!
Um, obviously not, if I can manage to bring home artichokes and citrus, huh?
But many of the vendors are local farmers, and in a number of cases, I’ve made a deliberate choice to support the small businesses – but not in all cases.
I’m not going to pay $4.00 a dozen for “organic free range” eggs, when regular old eggs are half that at the supermarket. However, I’m happy to pay an extra $.50 for DIFFERENT eggs that are cage- and antibiotic-free.
I just can’t see paying $10 a pound for homegrown beef at this point, though it’s under serious consideration once the freezers are emptied.
Asparagus – last week, I paid DOUBLE for asparagus that had been picked locally the day before in preference to the stuff that had been picked who-knows-when and shipped in from Mexico.
Okay, so the food thing is easy – locavore, fossil fuels, blah blah blah.
But there’s a little more to it, isn’t there? What about stuff that’s not made, grown, produced, whatever, locally?
Say. . . what about that sock yarn that I’ve been so in love with lately? There are not a lot of superwash sheep grazing around the greater Rochester area, let me tell you!
So what about that? Things we need (let’s just agree that we need sock yarn, okay?) but must be imported from SOMEWHERE, in SOME manner.
I’ll be honest – THIS is where where I really had to do some honest soul-searching – when it came to my sock habit. How sad is that?
Sure, I could probably hunt out some old lady who spins yarn from her own homegrown sheep – I guess. And quite possibly, not RIDICULOUSLY far away. There are both Amish and Mennonite communities within a couple of hours of here. I’m probably not gonna do that, though.
Then there are local yarn shops – there are two that are easily (the most minor of detours) on my way home. And the people there are SO nice. SO helpful. But MAN, the yarn is expensive. And truly, the selection, well, they can’t stock everything, can they? And apparently socks aren’t even the only thing people knit! But I am reasonably confident that, if I ever had a question on anything I was doing, there would be someone here, in one of those shops,who could help me out.
There is, of course, the Big Box option – and, even worse, the online Big Box – what an individual store may or may not stock, I can certainly get from their online versions, if I wanted to.
This is my dilemma – shopping at the local shop is the most expensive, cost-wise, but it also provides the best service, AND it does the most to support my community. But WOW, it can be expensive.
Shopping at the Big Box, while the product may be a bit (or a lot) cheaper, customer service is virtually non-existent, AND any profits will end up far, far from here.
BUT that Big Box does, at least, employ my neighbors. Hmmmm. . .
While those aren’t the ONLY two options, they’re certainly the most local ones. There’s also the online mom-and-pop shops – stores that do mail-order that are, in fact, local yarn shops, just not local HERE. But their profits stay in their community, rather than going into the corporate pockets of some multi-national conglomerate.
What’s a gal to do?
What about you? Do you prefer to shop locally, even if it means spending a little more, or would you rather save the money?