My wife just got a package delivered and as she unpacked the contents, we started talking. The box was not filled with exotic goodies from far away lands. It contained the mundane; toothpaste, deodorant, hand lotion and the like. Nothing fancy, mostly the stuff you could buy at any big box store, but here’s the thing; Kara didn’t have to find the time to get in car, fight traffic and then deal with the mass of retail humanity. She ordered all of these necessities from the comfort of our sofa from drugstore.com. The prices are pretty much the same, and the shipping is free. Although one might argue you’re saving gas and thus saving money, it’s really not the most eco-friendly option. But you’re certainly saving time. That’s buying global.
On the other side of the coin is my typical Saturday morning. I get up early and visit a locally owned restaurant for breakfast (sometimes it’s a franchise, but it’s still locally owned). Then head to the Falls Park Farmers Market. I’ll carefully choose locally grown onions, patty pan squash and Brussels sprouts. I’ll take a few minutes to chat with the vendors who produce this vegetable bounty, many with dirt still under their fingernails.
Then it’s off to the bread store (again a locally owned and operated franchise) and across the parking lot to the local Natural Food Coop. At each stop chatting with the friendly staff and other jovial shoppers.
Now I head further south to a local butcher shop, where I enter the door and am greeted with “Good morning Mr. Mathis, so what’s for dinner tonight?” “I don’t know yet, what looks good today.” I might walk out with fresh fish or veal or beef. But I will peer through the glass cases like a kid in a candy store. I’ll make my choice and some small talk with the guys at the shop. Then I’m off.
On my way back home I may stop at the wine shop to pick up a few bottles and chat with the proprietor. Again, she’s a local, but most importantly, she knows her wine and always has great recommendations.
At each of the stops on my Saturday morning rounds, I’m looking for quality ingredients and the shopping experience. And I’m not just talking to clerks; they’re craftsman and artisans, caring stewards of the land and knowledgeable experts. That’s why I like to shop local.
But if Kara asks me to go buy toiletries, I’ll likely head to Drugstore.com. So what do you think? Local or global or whatever seems easiest at the time?
- Jim Mathis