New reports suggest that localism is the new globalism. Nowadays, people are staying put (moving residences less often), which means an increased interest in and demand for local products and services. In a world where we can get anything from any part of the world with a few clicks on the Web, we may only really want what is just a few blocks away. As this NPR feature details, local varieties of the following industries are doing very well:
As it turns out, we'd rather eat food grown by people we can actually meet, let smaller banks handle our money and mortgages, learn what's happening closest to us first, and give away our money to people doing work in our own backyard.
This is something we've noticed over the years, too. Movements like 3/50 have been around to rouse support in any community for local merchants rather than big box or online retailers. And, the local food and farmer's market movements are growing rapidly, increasing by some 250% over the last 17 years.
Is this good news?
Absolutely. Not only can you make a strong financial case in regards to the benefits of spending money locally, but the notion of community can grow exponentially. It's one thing to patronize the local coffee shop; it's another to learn the barista's name, watch her make your drink, and engage in conversation about her life. You may do this with a hairdresser, attorney, doctor, or mechanic. Why not with a farmer, banker, reporter, or nonprofit director?
Of course, chain stores employ people in your community, too. And many times, the convenience and low prices they offer by centralization and replication prevail. Buying a bookcase from one of these stores is much cheaper than having a local carpenter make one from scratch, even if there is no comparison between the quality. The same could be said for staples like toothpaste, toilet paper, and skillets.
Regardless, a heightened awareness is a great first step. And, it looks like the local retailer and the large grocery conglomerate can live in harmony in your neighborhood. And that's the most beautiful thing to see.
What do you think?
What items do you buy from local stores? And do you think all this localism is great for community building and economic growth?