“Buy Local” Beyond Food

I have been advocating for locally produced food for the past decade. It not only supports our local growers, but it also supports the local economy and is better for the environment.

Lately I have been thinking that I’d like to do more to support my local community and businesses that are not food-related. With the news that Wal-Mart is planning on entering my city, I realized I haven’t done enough to support or encourage those local businesses.

It also struck me last month when I went to eat at my favorite local vegetarian restaurant, The Green Temple. It sits in a courtyard, surrounded by local, independent stores, and on one of the doors there was a sticker that says, “Thank You For Choosing Our Local Independent Business.”

It got me to thinking how tired I am of not having choices, or feeling that I could be in Any Town USA instead of the lovely seaside community I live in, and that I have to seek out unique spots to shop now for an enjoyable shopping experience. I wondered if there is anything I can do to help change that and to keep these local shops in business.

So, I did some research and found that buy-local campaigns have sprung up across the United States and Canada and more and more people are supporting them.

Two main organizations support buy-local campaigns: the American Independent Business Alliance and the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, which has a searchable directory of buy local networks in the U.S. and Canada.

These buy local campaigns and networks are working to spread the word in their communities that buying locally means more money stays in the local community and that when you support local businesses you are supporting your community.

Next: Where to start buying local

Buying locally doesn’t just mean buying at retail stores; it also means the local restaurant, coffee house, hair salon, and even local services such as plumbers, accountants, and electricians.

Spending at local businesses, rather than at chain stores or online, helps local economies because these businesses are more likely to buy from local suppliers and hire these local service providers.

Some people argue that this isn’t the case, that there is no real economic benefit to a local area. But, there are other benefits that are just as important such as reviving downtown areas that provide a community with stores and businesses with history and charm, and a direct connection or relationship with business owners, things that can’t be found at big box stores.

If you are interested in helping your local business community, check out the Institute for Self-Reliance‘s Big Box Toolkit. It was designed to help communities counter the mega-retailers and rebuild local businesses.

Aside from finding a buy local campaign in your area through one of these organizations, there are several great websites that list the independents by business type. Here are some sites to get you started:

American Bookseller’s Association
American Specialty Toy Retailing Association
Independent Grocer’s Alliance

Independent Coffee, Music, Movies, and Organic Food

Independent Coffeehouses

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Kath R.
Kath P.3 years ago

I do both...depends on the quality and price.

Heidi H.
Past Member 3 years ago

Yes, be part of your community. It's the way to help so many more people.

Sue Matheson
Sue Matheson3 years ago


Robert Hardy
Robert Hardy3 years ago

Make local, sell local, buy local. Know your product and the people that handle it.

Pat Tyler
Pat Tyler4 years ago

We are all vegan and vegetarian in the family and very Healthy hike,run,bike,dance ballet @SFB, and Hip hop @ the local dance studio,do weights and Yoga. We are all a very Happy and smiling bunch and get high grades in school since many of us are still studying. and having fun.

Pat Tyler
Pat Tyler4 years ago

Today is my niece Jenevieve Jades 12th birthday and she lovessss to read so I am getting her what she loves in our local book store....Her parents also got her books locally yesterday because we support the local business,of which 2 are run by her Dad and all the kids love to go to his Drive in,bike in walk in food restaurant. We all make it work for our community from the eldest my Mom who is 90 and drives her VW convertible around to the family spots and we ride our bikes,all 20 plus of us ,kids and all.

Vaiva G.
Vaiva G.4 years ago

It's always pleasing to have a connection with your local merchants, as opposed to faceless corporations.

John S.
Past Member 4 years ago

Great idea to support local food, crafts, and shops.

Masha Samoilova
Past Member 4 years ago


Mit W.
Mit Wes4 years ago

I'm not all that sure that local businesses selling locally would truly help a local economy that much as compared to global businesses selling lcoally. Wouldn't much more money be brought to a community if it had both local and global businesses that bought locally (labor, as well as goods) but sold globally ?