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regentrude
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I never buy things I don't need just to say I supported some business or another.  I have, however, bought services I could do myself, mostly because buying the services saves me time (like a gardener to weed for me, or a cleaning person).  I don't attempt to consciously "buy American" just for the sake of buying American.  In your car example, I'd buy what I wanted regardless of the nameplate. 

 

All that said, I tend to avoid large chain stores because I can't stand the atmosphere, the customer service is poor, and you have to navigate 8 miles of store for some simple item hidden on a back shelf, all for the privilege of saving a nickel on what is usually a cheaply-made, inferior item.  So most of my shopping is with local stores that produce American-made goods as a side-effect of being local.  So I don't buy meat at a chain store, I buy it at the local butcher because they have cuts I can't get in a chain store.  I buy my bread at a local bakery because it tastes better, and my produce at a farm market for the same reason.  I buy many of my clothes at a local shop because I like them, and because the owner shops materials locally, they are American made.  But none of this is a conscious attempt to buy American, it's just how it all shakes out because of what I prefer to buy.  If the butcher shop wasn't there, I'd buy what was available rather than drive half hour out of my way to find what I prefer.  But I am fortunate that I am in a decent sized city, where I can find a butcher, baker, and candlestick maker.  I realized the other day, though, that shopping the way I shop takes a lot of money and time; someone who works outside the home full time or is on a tight budget couldn't do this.

 

In the thread Things that make you wonder, the issue was raised how shopping decisions affect local community.

Creekland wrote:

 

 

I am curious to what extend people let local community offerings affect or dictate their shopping choices.

In the other thread, I had responded:

 

 

Do you buy things you don't want or need just so you can purchase locally?

Do you pay for services that you could perform better yourself and would be willing to spend the time doing, just to patronize a business that provides this service?

 

Thinking about it more, it goes beyond community. What about "Buy made in America"?

Again, nice sentiment. Do you let your desire to buy American made products lower your expectations about the product's performance? Would you buy a product that was made in the USA but that did not fulfill your desired specifications for the item? Should you?

 

For example: we are currently researching a vehicle purchase. I want a fuel efficient, reliable compact car with a hatch back and manual transmission. American car manufacturers do not produce a model with this specs. Would you make concessions and not buy a car that has the features you actually want, just so you can buy an American car? Is this a viable economic model?

 

 

Edited by reefgazer
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In some places, the biggest impact is where the sales tax is collected.  I live in a small, incorporated town totally surrounded by a large city.  If I shop at a store one mile from my house the sales tax goes to my town. If i drive a mile the other direction I can shop at a store owned by the same family but the sales tax goes to the large city.  

 

 

Too right.

 

Where I live, sales tax revenues pay for all city safety services like police and fire fighters.  Property tax mostly goes to schools.  I try to buy gas in my city limits for that reason.

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I agree that this is distasteful, but do you know where it comes from?

It comes from funny stories where tourists are laughed at for stupidly failing to haggle at all, hence ignorantly paying 5X as much as locals do for the same stuff.  

 

No one likes to be laughed at--not the tourist and not the local.  And no one likes to be cheated, ditto.

 

No. it comes from those tourists being a-holes.

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I think the saying Buy Local doesn't generally mean "even if you don't need it or want it."  I interpret it to mean:  "if you need to buy something anyway, try and support your local community."  I wonder if that's more important in a smaller town, when the success of a business is dependent on such a small population.

 

We try and do that when we can, though the two biggest obstacles for us have been 1) when buying local is much more expensive and 2) when the local service happens to be not very good.  Still, we like to support the local businesses as much as we can, but of course use common sense about whether it's a wise decision.

 

 

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There are certain categories of shops we will almost always buy something in just because we want to keep it open. Locally owned bookstores are an example-I will pay slightly more for a book from a local bookstore, or even a branch of a chain bookstore vs Amazon because I want physical bookstores to continue to exist.

 

We mostly patronize non-chain restaurants, but that's because the food is usually better, and you find some real gems when traveling that way. 

 

For school books, I usually try to order from the publisher vs Amazon because the author/publisher gets more money that way.

 

 

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I don't often prioritize buying local.

 

BUT.  We all have our exceptions, right?  I often shop at a lovely, large international supermarket owned by a local Korean family.  They have cooking classes that the offer near cost (about $30 per person), they sell a huge variety of stuff from every country you can imagine, and I regularly shop there for groceries.  If I'm there, and I need one or two things that they carry but are overpriced (their American groceries are usually overpriced, adn they don't do sales), I will buy them.  It makes my life easier to overpay, it supports them continuing to offer American products as part of their mix, and I wouldn't want that store to go away, so it's highly worth it to me.  

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Can you expand on the bolded a bit?  What types of things do you leave behind?  How do you know that the staff doesn't think they are discards and throw them out?   Or do you hand them to the staff and tell them they are for them to keep?   Is that better than leaving them a substantial tip (so they can choose what to buy) or are you talking about places where tipping is not done (or perhaps is not likely to get to the intended person)?  

 

I don't mean to sound a confrontational as this might read.  Just curious for more detail.  

 

The staff might discard things, but I highly doubt it considering the places I'm talking about.  It's not the same as in the US mentality-wise.

 

Types of things we leave behind include our own cleaning supplies (since we stay in the condos for a while and often buy what we like rather than what they may or may not be stocked with) or food we didn't consume (rice, fresh or frozen veggies, condiments - butter, oil, mustard, etc, and usually extra "treats" we didn't finish like chocolates).  We put things on the table (except frozen things) along with a note saying something to the effect of, "We didn't use these and can't take them back with us.  If you know of someone who can use them - or can use them yourself - please do."  If there's more in the freezer/fridge, we add that to the note.

 

We don't tip more because the cost of cleaning is often included in price of the condo.  We do leave a "usual" tip to be as reasonably careful as possible that it doesn't look like pure charity.  Some of the stuff left behind is totally normal.  Some is purposely purchased to be able to leave behind.  If we were camping or in the US, less than 1/4 of what is left would have been left (esp since in the US it is more likely to be tossed).

 

There have been times when it's been easy to hand direct items to the staff and politely ask them if they want it.  It's never been turned down in those situations.  However, in other situations the cleaning person comes after we've left.

 

 

I agree that this is distasteful, but do you know where it comes from?

It comes from funny stories where tourists are laughed at for stupidly failing to haggle at all, hence ignorantly paying 5X as much as locals do for the same stuff.  

 

No one likes to be laughed at--not the tourist and not the local.  And no one likes to be cheated, ditto.

 

We're ok at being laughed at.  ;)  We're well aware that most folks haggle and pending the situation, we will too, but not in areas where poverty and unemployment is super high.  Then we prefer to be "dumb."  Usually we are talking with the owner/worker and getting to know them more anyway as well as appreciating the craftsmanship.  I'm not sure they laugh much.  I think they're appreciative for the sale and the actual conversation rather than just the haggling.  But even if they laugh, we're ok with it.  We're just glad to help their economy a little bit.

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I'm willing to pay a bit more to buy locally, but I wouldn't go out and intentionally buy things I don't need just to support a local business. I might, however, mention to the owner that I'm looking for such-and-such an item and I'd be happy to buy it there if they carried it in the future.  In general though, I shop to minimize environmental harm. Buying local is secondary to that.

 

I also won't pay obscene prices just to avoid shopping at Target or whatever. Sorry, local baby boutique, but I'm not paying $22 for a single plain cotton onesie.

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I don't buy things I don't need but I might buy a slightly different version of something so I can get it locally. One thing that annoys me is that our local businesses haven't moved with the times so it's often actually hard to use them vs using amazon or big chain store. There are so many basics I can't buy and most of the local businesses have no internet presence.

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I agree that this is distasteful, but do you know where it comes from?

It comes from funny stories where tourists are laughed at for stupidly failing to haggle at all, hence ignorantly paying 5X as much as locals do for the same stuff.  

 

No one likes to be laughed at--not the tourist and not the local.  And no one likes to be cheated, ditto.

 

I haven't done much travel in places where haggling is part of the shopping culture.  But when I have, and been told that vendors expect to haggle, I've not bought anything at all.  I don't understand the "rules" of haggling and have never been in a position to learn it.   If I traveled more, I suppose I'd learn to do it in a way that respects both sides.  I don't mind looking like a dumb tourist but I also don't want to be cheated - nor do I want to cheat anyone else.  

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Interesting to me that several people have commented about poor customer service at local store vs. big chains. That has emphatically not been our experience. Locally owned restaurants and stores have to have better, more personal service or they will not survive here, because their prices are higher. 

 

 

Besides local restaurants, we shop at the locally owned, small hardware store and several small bookshops. At both hardware and bookshops, the difference in service is very obvious. 

 

 

Edited by ScoutTN
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The vast majority of non-consumables that we buy are purchased used. This is as much a budgetary concern as a social concern.

 

I do not buy things I don't need or want to shop locally.

 

Also many "American" car brands are assembled abroad or are made of largely imported materials and parts. Some foreign brands are assembled in the United States. So no, "buy American" doesn't ring true for me on auto purchases. We've never bought a brand new car but if we did, odds are good it would be a Toyota as that is the only brand we've purchased and owned and I like that I am already familiar with the basic maintenance and other information.

Edited by LucyStoner
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There are several local stores/restaurants that we patronize. I don't buy things that I don't want, but I may for example buy gift items/gift cards from a local place as opposed to Amazon or Target, etc. as a way of showing support.

 

Dh generally only likes to eat out at local restaurants. He is a great cook, and he cares about ingredients and enjoys talking to the business owners/chefs about the food the serve. As an example, he has had long conversations with the owner of our local chocolate shop about techniques and ingredient sources. He is also an entrepreneur and enjoys socializing and supporting other entrepreneurs.

 

However, we would not support a local business just because it is local. They need to offer a good product that is worth supporting.

Edited by lovelearnandlive
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Interesting to me that several people have commented about poor customer service at local store vs. big chains. That has emphatically not been our experience. Locally owned restaurants and stores have to have better, more personal service or they will not survive here, because their prices are higher. 

 

 

Besides local restaurants, we shop at the locally owned, small hardware store and several small bookshops. At both hardware and bookshops, the difference in service is very obvious. 

 

Same here for the most part.  

 

However we were just at a McD's this past week that my FIL chose.  (MIL has severe Alzheimers with associated issues and they go out to eat more often than not, esp since FIL is in his upper 80s.)  The manager at that McD's saw us drive up and had my in-laws food ready for them before FIL even ordered (they always get the same thing).  He quickly added hubby's and my food to the tray - and brought it out to the table where I was sitting with MIL before FIL even paid for it.  Apparently he does this all the time to try to help them out.

 

I so wanted to be able to give that guy a HUGE tip (or a raise), but there was never an opportunity to do so as the dude was working hard the whole time we were there.  Some people are not paid enough for the job they do.  (sigh)

 

Good service can come from anywhere.

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Most chain restaurants around here are local owned. They pay for a franchise license, but the owners live locally, as do all of the employees, delivery guys, etc.

 

Most chain anything around here are locally staffed, managed, and/or owned. They sponsor local sports teams, fundraisers, and clubs. They do exactly what people think of when people talk about building a good local community.  Interesting that people avoid them because they are chains.

 

this.

most chain *anything* is a franchisee - who is local (I've encountered people in the past who do not understand that). including all the costs (and losses) of running it.  my objections to the restaurants is the food -which is dictated by corp.

,

I can say I shop at  costco, amazon, microsoft, and am "shopping locally".  becasue even though they are multinational  corporations - they "are local" businesses to me.  they all started here, within merely a few miles. and their headquarters are here.  we've had a costco membership since nov 1983 - when there was one warehouse in south seattle - and that was it. 

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Interesting to me that several people have commented about poor customer service at local store vs. big chains. That has emphatically not been our experience. Locally owned restaurants and stores have to have better, more personal service or they will not survive here, because their prices are higher. 

 

 

Besides local restaurants, we shop at the locally owned, small hardware store and several small bookshops. At both hardware and bookshops, the difference in service is very obvious. 

 

A lot of smaller stores DON'T survive around here.  Don't know if it is the service, but yeah they just don't. 

 

I think one thing that makes them less desirable is that they tend to be located in more difficult to reach places.  A big box store has a huge parking lot and they might be located in an easy to get to place.  Downtown there is almost no parking.  What little parking there is you have to pay for.  In the dead of winter walking anywhere is horrid.  So combine all that with higher prices, it's a wonder any small business could survive there.  They really have to offer something unusual or amazing service or something.

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Yes and no.

 

A grocery store and a pharmacy and a place to buy prepared food (a restaurant, a gas station that sells hot pizza, etc.) are essential to small town life. I will support those businesses but I am not necessarily going to buy craft items or the like that does not appeal to me.  My parents have a different philosophy on buying craft items (they do), but I don't necessarily appreciate receiving them as presents. 

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We're ok at being laughed at.   ;)  We're well aware that most folks haggle and pending the situation, we will too, but not in areas where poverty and unemployment is super high.  Then we prefer to be "dumb."  Usually we are talking with the owner/worker and getting to know them more anyway as well as appreciating the craftsmanship.  I'm not sure they laugh much.  I think they're appreciative for the sale and the actual conversation rather than just the haggling.  But even if they laugh, we're ok with it.  We're just glad to help their economy a little bit.

Yup, I think that's nice.

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I agree that this is distasteful, but do you know where it comes from?

It comes from funny stories where tourists are laughed at for stupidly failing to haggle at all, hence ignorantly paying 5X as much as locals do for the same stuff.  

 

No one likes to be laughed at--not the tourist and not the local.  And no one likes to be cheated, ditto.

 

Yeah, I was not brought up to "haggle" and I dislike it intensely.  However, I travel with a friend who was brought up in a society that does that.  I've been told by many from such societies that the vendor gets insulted if you don't haggle.  For them it's part of the joy of living.  I guess it would be like ordering at a restaurant and not chewing your food.

 

So when we travel, I leave the haggling to her.  And I go stand far away.  :P  After a good haggle in Morocco (which horrified my kids), the vendor gave us some free stuff, thus apparently indicating that we didn't in fact bankrupt him.  :P

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OT, but this drives me mad! I get so disgusted when I see people haggling locals down to practically nothing. It is like a blood sport. The vile American tourists seem to take glee in getting something for almost nothing, either not thinking or not caring that the people who are selling to them are human beings who are trying to make a living.  I see people humiliate sellers and then turn around and hoot about it with their friends, bragging about saving what for them is pocket change but for the sellers could be food for a day.   Asking for a lower price is one thing, and expected, but haggling mercilessly is rude and embarrassing.

 

 

Yeah, I suppose it is OT, but yeah.  For us it is sport; for them the likelihood is very hight that it is school fees, food and medicine money (particularly when the vendors are women).  Be the change we want to see.

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I haven't done much travel in places where haggling is part of the shopping culture.  But when I have, and been told that vendors expect to haggle, I've not bought anything at all.  I don't understand the "rules" of haggling and have never been in a position to learn it.   If I traveled more, I suppose I'd learn to do it in a way that respects both sides.  I don't mind looking like a dumb tourist but I also don't want to be cheated - nor do I want to cheat anyone else.  

 

I have also just not bought anything, or just offered one price (what I'd pay in the US) even though I know they would take less.  Yes I know that is not smart.

 

On my first trip to India, I was looking at some small artifacts in booths near the Taj Mahal, thinking to take home some souvenirs.  Two different vendors saw me looking at an item that they were both selling.  They both descended on me and proceeded to yell lower and lower prices into each ear.  Without my saying anything, the price went from $10 to $1 before I put the item down and walked away.  Just freaked me out.  :p

 

So I do believe haggling is what they want to do, not something the "Ugly American" cooked up as an excuse to exploit poor people.  :)

 

I would also note that a lot of things promoted as local souvenirs are actually imported from China.  :p

 

Edited by SKL
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I do not buy just to buy. So when I need or want something, if it is an item I might find locally, I definite look. I live very rural though so local shopping means hardware stores, one lumber yard, a couple of seasonal farmer's markets, a few diners, some antique stores, a Wal-Mart, gas stations, exactly two supermarkets in the entire county, ice cream shops, one jeweler whom we tried for a wedding ring repair which he totally botched so...sigh..., several farm stores, a tractor dealer, a couple of florists, three old historic theaters, two Dollar stores, Dollar General, and some pharmacies.

 

So yes prescriptions are filled at a nice, independent pharmacy, if I need gift wrap I go to the Pharmacy that is also a Hallmark store, the hardware store is frequented regularly, and we don't drive to the city to the luxurious theaters but watch movies when they come to the county. Otherwise apart from coffee filters and office supplies to cleaners from Wal-Mart, not only do I grocery shop out of county at a Mennonite supermarket, I either have to drive to the city because there just isn't anything else here, or online. Amazon gets a lot of business because I can get litmus paper, beakers, test tubes, etc for the club on prime, and many things that would cost me $15.00 round trip in fuel to "go shopping" to get can be delivered to my house on prime.

 

As for a car, our number one issue is safety. Safety safety safety. Since I do a lot of hauling for 4H that means a mini van and the only two that consistently stay on top for safety are Toyota and Honda. I drive a Toyota Sienna with side curtain air bags, a model that saved my son's life. EMS and other first responders told us that if we had any of the American brand minivans, he would have been killed instantly.

 

I love my fellow Americans but there is no "buy American" mantra that takes the place of my family's lives. None. When American motor companies want to make a minivan that performs as well on Insurance Safety tests as the Sienna, then I will take a look.

 

As for fuel economy, that in my opinion is more important than buy American because we need to be able to breath clean air in this country so every person willing to drive a fuel efficient care like my husband's Saturn Astra (a German Opal with a GM brand name) I say go for it. If that means a Honda Civic or Toyota Carolla, that is A Okay.

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I thought of one thing I do buy to support a local group when I could make that item easily and much less expensively myself. There's a local nonprofit that employs developmentally disabled adults and makes dog biscuits. They're sold at several locally owned stores, including the one I mentioned in my earlier post. And it warms my heart to think of supporting those folks and getting a good quality biscuit for the pooch. So even though they're $5,99 for a teeny box I buy them all the time.

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In the thread Things that make you wonder, the issue was raised how shopping decisions affect local community.

Creekland wrote:

 

 

I am curious to what extend people let local community offerings affect or dictate their shopping choices.

In the other thread, I had responded:

 

 

Do you buy things you don't want or need just so you can purchase locally?   No, we don't.  If we need/want something that we can get locally, we might but it would depend on the specific item and circumstances.  For example, if we need a prescription.  We have one or two local mom and pop pharmacies but we're more likely to get it from CVS.  Because CVS will definitely take our insurance, more likely to have it in stock, and more likely to have it available quicker.  And if I'm dealing with a sick kid (or self), they have a 24 hour drive-up window.

 

On the other hand, if I'm going to lunch with my daughter we are likely to go to the really great Italian cafe that is in a little local downtown because they have amazing Caprese salad.

 

Do you pay for services that you could perform better yourself and would be willing to spend the time doing, just to patronize a business that provides this service?  Not in general.  We won't go out to eat JUST to support a restaurant, but when we do go out to eat for an occasion (usually birthdays and anniversaries) we will go to a local, non-chain restaurant most of the time.

 

Thinking about it more, it goes beyond community. What about "Buy made in America"?

Again, nice sentiment. Do you let your desire to buy American made products lower your expectations about the product's performance? Would you buy a product that was made in the USA but that did not fulfill your desired specifications for the item? Should you?

I might if it would serve the purpose, just maybe not to the full extent of something else.  I might lower standards A LITTLE BIT.  Can't really think of an example of this though.

 

For example: we are currently researching a vehicle purchase. I want a fuel efficient, reliable compact car with a hatch back and manual transmission. American car manufacturers do not produce a model with this specs. Would you make concessions and not buy a car that has the features you actually want, just so you can buy an American car? Is this a viable economic model?

We usually buy Hondas because they are reliable.   A car is an expensive purchase so I am less likely to make concessions on a purchase that size.

 

I get confused sometimes about the whole "shop local" thing, because it clearly isn't all about proximity.  It comes up a lot around here because the next town over (about 2 miles away) has a small main street with lots of little stores.   A lot of restaurants but the stores tend to run to expensive name-brand tchotchkes (like Vera Bradley) or specialty items (like team swimsuits and cruise wear).  

 

But, I always wonder what counts as "local".   Obviously the little italian cafe that the owner works at all day is local.  But what about the grocery store where the family owns 10 stores?  I know a chain like CVS or Walgreens isn't considered "local" but they do hire people from the community so doesn't that count for something?  Does it only count if the items are made locally as well, like the specialty stores don't really count?   Only the restaurants/food places and Farmer's Market would really count as "local" if that's the case.

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Not hatchback with manual.

I'd love to get another Honda - alas, they don't make the Civic with the features I want. The Accord is great, but no hatchback.

 

I miss the Honda Civic Hatchback.  That was what I had for my first three new cars - manual transmission, no AC, no radio - totally stripped down but soooo affordable and sooooo reliable. 

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There are certain categories of shops we will almost always buy something in just because we want to keep it open. Locally owned bookstores are an example-I will pay slightly more for a book from a local bookstore, or even a branch of a chain bookstore vs Amazon because I want physical bookstores to continue to exist.

 

We mostly patronize non-chain restaurants, but that's because the food is usually better, and you find some real gems when traveling that way. 

 

For school books, I usually try to order from the publisher vs Amazon because the author/publisher gets more money that way.

 

I would definitely patronize a decent used (or not used) local bookstore if we had one around here.  We have one Barnes & Nobles and it's the only bookstore in a 10 mile radius.   I travel to Niantic Connecticut at least once a year so I can patronize the very nice, very large used book store up there.

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re America and fuel economy / emissions standards:

...
As for fuel economy, that in my opinion is more important than buy American because we need to be able to breath clean air in this country so every person willing to drive a fuel efficient care like my husband's Saturn Astra (a German Opal with a GM brand name) I say go for it. If that means a Honda Civic or Toyota Carolla, that is A Okay.

 

 

These are very much among the concerns that first drove me from American car companies, way back in the 1980s Dark Ages when US automakers were furiously resisting economy and emissions standards at exactly the moment when Japanese automakers were designing and selling ever-more-efficient cars that were rapidly transforming their global competitiveness... because everywhere but here, consumers DID want fuel-efficient cars.

 

I believe air quality is essential to American health and well-being.

I believe oil dependency is an American national security issue.

I believe US auto companies' resistance to efficiency and emissions standards is an American competitiveness issue.

 

With the CAFE standard rollbacks we're about to run this kabuki all over again.  Fuel efficiency and emissions standards *will* continue to be a far more important decision driver to me as a car consumer than Buy America.  

 

In that sector, given the decisions that US automakers keep on keeping on making, I actually don't believe that Buying America even serves American interests.

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I am seeing two things here: Many people on this board are Americans who have never been limited in their choices (finances aside) compared to your background having grown up in the former DDR. I think it is totally normal that you would not want to limit your choices. I think I get that. I lived in Europe for many years, however, not in the DDR and it is even hard for me to picture hoping that you will get the choice of at least two sweaters in your size...

 

I am not sure it can be called a moral judgment, but some of us are willing to compromise - get something local even if it's not the exact thing you want, while others are set on something and are happy to hunt it down far and wide.

For me, it depends on the item I am buying. How important is its design, functionality, etc to me? Can I live with a different model with different features that I may be able to get locally versus tons of choices online. Sometimes it's "yes" and sometimes it's "no." My example is beeswax candles. Not an earthshaking purchase obviously. I can order them in bulk a little cheaper or I can make the local beekeeper and candle maker happy. There is no appreciable difference in the candles themselves so mostly I purchase locally. If I did not live in such an agriculturally rich area of the country I would not have this choice. I would, however, not be any more morally deficient if I had to order online or simply chose to order online.

 

Your example about a car purchase would be totally different. A car is a relatively long term investment and costs quite a bit. You have definite preferences and if those are not available locally, it's time to branch out. I don't see anything wrong with it.

 

And no, I don't go to restaurants just so I can buy something there. But the little Farmer's shop on the side of the highway does have excellent pies from their own organic orchard so I bought a few because I have little time right now to bake. Had this place not been in existence or their product fell short of what I want, I'd bake it myself at midnight. :)

 

Perhaps long story short is this: Buy local when you can. If you live in an area with little options, you cannot simply buy everything local. Some people are lucky to get decent food where they live but little else.

Edited by Liz CA
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re America and fuel economy / emissions standards:

 

 

These are very much among the concerns that first drove me from American car companies, way back in the 1980s Dark Ages when US automakers were furiously resisting economy and emissions standards at exactly the moment when Japanese automakers were designing and selling ever-more-efficient cars that were rapidly transforming their global competitiveness... because everywhere but here, consumers DID want fuel-efficient cars.

 

I believe air quality is essential to American health and well-being.

I believe oil dependency is an American national security issue.

I believe US auto companies' resistance to efficiency and emissions standards is an American competitiveness issue.

 

With the CAFE standard rollbacks we're about to run this kabuki all over again. Fuel efficiency and emissions standards *will* continue to be a far more important decision driver to me as a car consumer than Buy America.

 

In that sector, given the decisions that US automakers keep on keeping on making, I actually don't believe that Buying America even serves American interests.

I agree with you, but what can you do when it turns out that European automakers are cheating the system? (I'm looking at you Volkswagen!) How can the average consumer know for sure about Japanese cars? Just asking rhetorically, not you specifically Pam.
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Local to me is someone within 20 miles or so (since we're rural).  It might be a local mom & pop or it might be the local Walmart.  Both support local issues.  Both employ local people.  Which one I choose depends upon what item I'm after.  I prefer mom & pop to Big Chain (anything), but I'm not exclusive.

 

The opposite is online buying such as Amazon where the only thing local is the delivery driver.

 

The first keeps money in our community (or is more likely to anyway).  The other ships it out.

 

I prefer buying things made in countries that care about Green Issues of our planet, so try to avoid Made in China and India, etc, and will pay more for US/Canada/Europe and similar, both locally and online. I don't want our planet to have the air quality issues some of those countries have.  Cheap isn't everything if it messes up our planet for my kids and grandkids.

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I buy locally if the local provides services that I can't get by buying online.  Eg. I buy from our local camera store, rather than going there, getting advice and then shopping them online.  I need the advice they give.

 

That said, I will buy online if I have not received advice from them.  Eg. when I did all the research myself based on meeting the needs of the recipient, I shopped online for a used camera I was giving as a gift.  Interestingly, the local store had a better price *anyway* so I got it there, and I was glad I could.  

 

Also, if the local store treats me like carp, like having awful return policies, I'll go to Amazon instead because of the return policy.  

 

And for the record, I don't view shopping at Fred Meyer or Costco or Ginormous Stuff R Us stores as "local".  They have the same ability to play with the big boys.  The local pharmacy, them I patronize if I can, because they *don't* have the ability to buy in bulk and they have done wonderful services for me, like when my kid was a sick baby and I didn't want to wake him and get him out of his car seat, I parked outside the front door, called on my cell phone to tell them the situation and they brought the meds to my car.  I was super loyal to them until they went out of business.  Then I found another local pharmacy that did personalized service, as well...and was loyal to them ... until they went out of business.  :0(

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re profit motive driving companies to misrepresent:

I agree with you, but what can you do when it turns out that European automakers are cheating the system? (I'm looking at you Volkswagen!) How can the average consumer know for sure about Japanese cars? Just asking rhetorically, not you specifically Pam.

 

 

It's true that emissions are harder for consumers to "see" on their own than mileage, which any of us can easily double-check on the back of an envelop.

 

For me, the Volkswagen episode demonstrates that emission standards a) work (ultimately, with an enforcement lag) and b) do need to be enforced, as private sector companies (be they European or American or any other country) have a profit motive to misrepresent.

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And there are different levels of "local".  There is down the street...your city...your state...the US.  If you are thinking even in terms of buy a US car...forget it.  No such thing.  Very few things are even made here and if they are assembled here they aren't made with US parts.  So how local are we actually being?

 

 

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As I mentioned, I worked at Amazon in a distribution center when DH was laid off a few years ago.  That job packing those Pillow Pets and Razor Scooters and such and slapping labels on them that listed places like NYC and Omaha and so on.....meant we were able to pay our mortgage and utilities.

 

Just because something isn't local to an individual person, doesn't mean those dollars aren't helping those who need it. 

 

ANY buying helps someone.  I don't think anyone doubts that.  Where we choose to use our money helps that person/area.

 

But selfishly, I want my community (or those I travel to) to keep the majority of my spending dollars so they don't close and I'm out of choices.

 

Occasionally I need to get things from Amazon - such as the video I just bought/used when with my MIL or my kids college books - but it's never going to be my "go to first" option for things I can get locally.

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I live in an unusual town. 80% of residents at least are employed by one employer, to do specialized work which pays very well. It's a small geographic area and few people who don't get the salary from this employer afford to live here. Most local shops and restaurants are staffed by people from other cities who commute. So if I buy there, I'm supporting their community, not mine. Honestly, it would probably be in the employees best interest if we went to them for service rather than making them drive up here every day for our convenience. So I see no charitable or personal reason to shop in town. I do shop at our grocery store and hardware store and gas station, but for most things my choices are to shop 1.5 hours away or to shop online, so I shop online. I place an Amazon order every week on average.

 

 

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Here's another question. My mom and I go fruit picking each fall. Cherries, apples, peaches, etc. We are unable to grow enough of these things for canning, but we can do Upick, which tastes so much better, and can it ourselves, which results in super yummy food. We even do enough research that we just aren't paying that much more than what we would pay for store bought of the same taste quality.

 

So anyway, we go fruit picking. All over the state and even out of state. I live on the eastern border of Indiana. Sometimes we are fruit picking in like Michigan. For sure not local to me. I am certainly not buying local.....but I am supporting a small family owned business....just not one here. Is that somehow better or worse?

From a health and environmental perspective what you do is great. Picked fresh and then home preserved means eating that in the winter in place of produce trucked long distance and picked not fully ripe and "sprayed" to color up. So enjoy your pursuits without guilt!

 

And welcome to Michigan! Definitely wonderful, in season fruit is something we are proud of!

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And that is completely fine.  Really. 

 

I just think that it's important to recognize that purchasing online is just as helpful to that person working in the distribution center/driving the truck/working the register, as it is to the person working the register who is standing right in front of you. 

 

It's perfectly ok to admit that the person standing in front of you who might be your neighbor, your kid's scout leader, your church organist, etc....is where you prefer to spend your dollars. 

 

 

This is absolutely true in terms of employment.  

 

Even that maligned $5 made-in-China sweatshirt at Walmart is employing someone, somewhere, to sit at a sewing machine and make it.  Labor conditions notwithstanding, she (it's probably a she) probably needs the income (low though it may be) just as desperately as anyone in the US.

 

The "buy local" logic speaks also to multiplier effects, beyond employment and on to where profits are taken and recirculated / reinvested.  Toyota absolutely has manufacturing facilities in the US, and provides relatively good jobs (union issues notwithstanding) to Americans working there.  But as a Japanese-centered company, their corporate profits are taken/recirculated/reinvested wherever makes profit sense to them.  The Target down the road -- even though it's employing people here, including management -- is taking corporate profits elsewhere.  Even locally owned Friendly's franchises is sending a sizable % of revenues out to corporate.  Whereas the lovely Greek couple running our local diner really do live here, bank here, buy stuff here, "multiply" their revenues more-here than a comparable chain restaurant.  (Also, spanakopita.)

 

It's complicated.  The bigger and more global the corporation, the less it seems to me "buy American" ultimately means.   American-originating companies that have truly global scale -- Exxon, United Fruit/Chiquita, Coca-Cola, etc -- are no more likely to re-invest corporate profits here, than anywhere else int he world that makes business sense to them.  

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1.  The pay-extra-when-buying-souvenirs-during-third-world-vacations thing just reeks of White Man's Burden to me.  

2.  Buying local is good and reasonable when it supports businesses that provide a product or service that make it worth buying local.  Just doing it for the sake of doing it is silly, imo, as it incentivises poor or inefficient business practices (unless the product or service is more valuable, for whatever reason, than one you can get elsewhere).  

3.  The argument that we must pay the local jewelry store a bit more because it keeps $ in our community, while sort of true, doesn't make for much of a *moral* argument - the basis of the argument is selfishness to start with, which is fine as long as it is recognized as such and not promoted as the more moral option for some weird reason.

4. The vast majority of the production of most items you buy locally (except farm products) is done either by people in the third world or by factory farmed animals here in the US; in either case I don't see what moral argument you can make about it, even if you are promoting a living wage for the people selling the goods, as the people producing them certainly won't get a living wage (and the animals producing them won't even get a tolerable existence, tbh)

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I look at it as you do what you can do and you decide what your priority is.  There are some things that I make sure I buy local, even though I can get it cheaper or get a better product online.  Case  in point ... I frequent our local book stores and a local tea shop because I really want these business to stay ... I value their service.  But, I won't buy things I don't really want just to keep a store open. I have asked stores to carry the things I want, but, if it doesn't fit their business model, they won't.  But, then again, I live in a major metropolitan area so I have lots of choices. 

 

As far as purchasing a car ... the lines between buying domestic and buying foreign are quite blurred these days.  A car may have a domestic label but made from mostly foreign parts.  A car may have a foreign label, but may be manufactured here with a combination of foreign and domestic parts.  For such a large purchase, I buy what I want.  If a company wants market share, they will make what the market wants. 

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I have one jar of sour cherries left.  I just saw on TV a method of making individual cherry pies with mason jar lids.  I am SO going to make those when DH comes home this weekend.  Those cherries from that orchard in southern Michigan (can't for the life of me remember the name, it was close to the Lake Michigan shore) were SO good.  The peaches....all gone lol. 

Another great way to preserve produce and vitamins is dehydration. They have cheap dehydrators at Harbor Freight or you can do it in your oven it just takes longer unless you have a convection oven.

 

I make apple and banana chips, dried strawberries and blueberries, dried kiwi, and dried pineapple from in season produce and my family eats that all winter. Once dehydrated, it stores in small containers, and yields a great vitamin punch for a small amount. I freeze raspberries and blackberries, melon balls, and peaches. I have kids who like to pull out the bags of frozen peaches and eat them stone cold.

 

I also dehydrate veggies - grape tomatoes, red/yellow/orange peppers, leeks, and celery. The tomatoes get used on salads all winter and spring, and with broccoli, green beans, diced carrots, and peas in the freezer along with canned tomatoes on the shelf, it is really nice to only need to get potatoes, onions, and salad greens in the winter. Potatoes and onions I can often get Michigan grown because as root vegetables, they have been stored well. But the salad greens are tougher, and I try when I can to pick them up if I am near a Meier because they often have Michigan grown hydroponic butter lettuce and sometimes even spinach. Sometimes I have to settle for what I can get which is shipped long distance.

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And that is completely fine.  Really. 

 

I just think that it's important to recognize that purchasing online is just as helpful to that person working in the distribution center/driving the truck/working the register, as it is to the person working the register who is standing right in front of you. 

 

It's perfectly ok to admit that the person standing in front of you who might be your neighbor, your kid's scout leader, your church organist, etc....is where you prefer to spend your dollars. 

 

 

My buying patterns have definitely changed as I've aged.  I'm sure as a kid I started with the "I see it, I want it" mentality with no concern at all for the people behind the sale.  As I aged I learned about budgeting - esp making sure the necessary bills get paid before ordering pizza (or whatever), but I still didn't care who was at the other end.  As a young parent I learned that my kids' needs were more important than my own, so the budget changed, but again, no concern with the other end.  With my hubby starting his own (local) business I've learned just how important it is to consider the "small guy."  As a traveler (beyond tourism), I've discovered quite a bit about our planet and fellow humans - and moved other priorities higher than they ever were - green and equality issues.  Getting a wider ranging circle - one that includes having learned a bit about major companies and smaller ones - has definitely modified things.  Our budget has eased up some so we can make certain changes to our spending.

 

We all contribute to our global and local economy every time we spend $$.  No matter what we buy or where we go someone will benefit.  My preference is definitely for the small guy (or gal) over businesses with high echelons and multi-millionaires.  My preference is for green over brown/gray.  My preference is for supporting folks who are just as likely to support my family or friends over nameless others far away.

 

Then my hope is that other segments of the economy can do the same for those nameless others - 'cept they then know their names.

 

These are all principles and not hard fast rules.  We don't buy things we don't need (with the one exception noted in my first post - and add in some local fundraisers - but that's usually food that we eat, so it works).  We are careful with where we spend what we spend to try to do our best to support people/things we prioritize higher.  Others are welcome to prioritize differently.  It's our difference that (hopefully) keeps the most people possible employed.

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In some ways I think of "buying local" not as buying from local producers, but buying from local stores. As in, if I have a Target and a Walmart equal distances from my home, I'd choose Target. But right now, I only have a Walmart in my town. I could drive into the bigger city for Target, but why would I do that? It burns more fuel, more time, and Walmart is employing people in my community. I love this place and want to see it thrive. Also, there's a Big Lots not to far from me. Lots of the same stuff as Target and Walmart in a smaller store. It's the cleanest, most well organized Big Lots I've ever seen. The people in there are always friendly. Of course I'm going there. Target, Walmart and Big Lots are all stores full of stuff made in China at similar price points, but stuff that I need on a daily basis. So "local" is the retailer in my community. 

 

Pretty much the only thing we buy that's produced locally is our milk, meat, honey and some of our fruits and vegetables (oh and dining out. The only chains we eat at are Ruby Tuesday, Chick-fil-a and Starbucks - everything else is a local restaurant). 

Edited by SamanthaCarter
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In the thread Things that make you wonder, the issue was raised how shopping decisions affect local community.

 

I am curious to what extend people let local community offerings affect or dictate their shopping choices.

In the other thread, I had responded:

 

Do you buy things you don't want or need just so you can purchase locally?

Do you pay for services that you could perform better yourself and would be willing to spend the time doing, just to patronize a business that provides this service?

 

Thinking about it more, it goes beyond community. What about "Buy made in America"?

Again, nice sentiment. Do you let your desire to buy American made products lower your expectations about the product's performance? Would you buy a product that was made in the USA but that did not fulfill your desired specifications for the item? Should you?

 

For example: we are currently researching a vehicle purchase. I want a fuel efficient, reliable compact car with a hatch back and manual transmission. American car manufacturers do not produce a model with this specs. Would you make concessions and not buy a car that has the features you actually want, just so you can buy an American car? Is this a viable economic model?

 

 

"Local" is a term I have to take with a grain of salt.  My almost 40 square mile township doesn't have a single traffic light, never mind a food store (beyond a tiny deli and a gas station mini mart.)  We have a Chinese pick up place, a pizzeria/bar, and two other tavern-type places that I believe are within the township, and none of them are much to talk about.  There are no stores with merchandise.  The farms within our township do not sell direct.  So, if I held to the traditional sense of the concept, I'd starve, go naked, and smell bad.

 

I like to support family owned businesses in the townships around us, but I can only make so many stops across so many miles.  You will not find me driving 15 miles west for milk, another 10 miles north for soap, swinging 20 miles back east for an oil change, and then passing my house AND the supermarket (which happens to be family-owned... and carries that farmer's milk, thank goodness) to grab produce (which some family farms sell to our supermarket, so that helps.)

 

I *might* feel different if I lived in a different kind of area, with a Main Street vibe.  But I don't, and I never have.

 

I do prefer to buy American cars, but I can't deny that dh's Toyota was the most reliable vehicle we've ever owned.

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1.  The pay-extra-when-buying-souvenirs-during-third-world-vacations thing just reeks of White Man's Burden to me. 

 

I didn't suggest paying extra, I suggested treating people whose country you are visiting with respect. So, quite the opposite of "White Man's Burden" IMO.

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The profit margin of a grocery stores and businesses like Wal-mart is in the 3-4% range.  That means that for every $100 I spend at the store, $96 - $97 goes to pay for the product, pay the electric bill, pay the workers, pay the rent, pay taxes, etc.  Only $3 -$4 goes to the owner's of the businesses.  Because the pension plan of my elderly next door neighbor is invested in Wal-mart stock, some of that $3- $4 goes to individuals in my local community even if I buy at Wal-Mart rather than a locally owned mom and pop store. 

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Am I the only one who hates to leave the house to shop? Call me selfish, but in my purchases, I'm looking out for me. Maybe I'm shortsighted. I suppose my community needs the business and tax dollars to not turn into a ghost town, and to support public services. But in a free market, I spend on what has value to me.

 

I buy everything that is a better price on Amazon. I will even pay a few dollars more to not leave the house. It's stressful for me to shop. My middle child has trouble in most stores, except Aldi and the discount grocery store which are small. He frequently has meltdowns. In my ideal world of the future, everything would be delivered to my front door.

 

Those little independent bookshops never introduced me to even a fraction of the books that the wide world of Amazon did. And I can buy 5 books for the price of one. If I go into a bookstore, I will buy something, as I feel I need to pay for the "bookstore experience." But I almost never do, even though I loved "You've Got Mail."

 

In my old town, there was a shoe store that measured your foot, watched the way you walked, etc. They would find just the right shoe for your foot. We bought shoes there, even at twice the price of the Internet, because we were paying for the service. But the only shoe store I can find here, they have no service, seldom have my size, etc. It's easier AND cheaper to buy shoes on Amazon and return (with free shipping) the ones that don't fit.

 

Why should I put myself to the hassle of driving to 3 or 4 stores to find one that has the item I want in stock, when I can click and buy? I do get a CSA, pay more per pound for produce from the farm around the corner, and get eggs from the couple down the road. But anything not perishable, I'd rather buy online.

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The profit margin of a grocery stores and businesses like Wal-mart is in the 3-4% range.  That means that for every $100 I spend at the store, $96 - $97 goes to pay for the product, pay the electric bill, pay the workers, pay the rent, pay taxes, etc.  Only $3 -$4 goes to the owner's of the businesses.  Because the pension plan of my elderly next door neighbor is invested in Wal-mart stock, some of that $3- $4 goes to individuals in my local community even if I buy at Wal-Mart rather than a locally owned mom and pop store. 

 

 

Sure.  As well, the $96-97 supports & codifies Walmart's worldwide supply chain (with all the globalization and outsourcing and overseas labor practices embedded in that supply chain) and US transport and distribution practices (with all the embedded downward pressure on wages they are able due to their scale to exert on on their middleman) their own labor practices (with all the direct corporate welfare as described 2000 posts ago in the OP, as well as the company's explicit expectation that their US employees apply for food stamps and Medicaid to make ends meet).

 

Which -- let  me hasten to add: I shop at Walmart myself.  For some things it's my only option within a hour's driving distance; for some things it's my most convenient option; it is often the cheapest option.  I *certainly* understand why families with lower income than mine shop at Walmart.  We all have a hundred tradeoffs of cost, convenience, quality, etc to make.  

 

And even to the extent that we try to #GrabYourWallet and  make purchasing decisions based on values... different values can pull different directions, like when my value for fuel efficiency & clean air & reliability pulls me one way on car decisions and Buy American another; or when my value for organic/sustainably grown food pulls me one way and Support Local pulls me another.  Not to mention, I really DO want fresh produce 12 months a year for health & nutrition values; there's no way to effect that where I live without untold transportation/ carbon footprint consequences.

 

It's all quite intertwined and messy.  We all do the best we can.

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I haven't read the other replies yet.

 

I think contributing to the local economy is important for a number of reasons.  The big one is because if I want a place to live I'll enjoy, be able to find a job in, and so on, there needs to be people who are actually living here.  A second is around social justice and environmental issues - I know that for the most part, we have fairl labour laws here, and environmental protections.  I can influence regulations here.  I can see or talk to people like business owners and farmers and actually know what they do.  I don't have to rely on things like organic or fair trade certifications which tend to be directed to more commercial measurements.

 

In some instances, like with food, there are other reasons to want to use local resources - in that case, food security issues.

 

I think the idea that using local businesses and products is something one has an external rule about is impractical, and even silly.  Using imported items can be the better choice, or sometimes the only one.  And most people have limited funds that have to be allocated.  So I ask questions about the purchases I make -how important is this industry to the local economy?  What are the environmental and social problems around it?  What are the opportunities for growth and improvement?

 

Based on questions like this, I try and determine what gives the most bang for my buck.  Sometimes, I might decide that I don't need a particular product after all - asparagus in the winter is just not a thing that grows here.  I avoid certain chain stores because of employment practices.  Some local things I may pass over - I don't tend to support ventures that are simply poorly managed or really inadequate.  I don't buy locally made custom shoes, because I really can't afford that.

 

I do think in some cases it is worthwhile to support something that isn't as good as it would be from elsewhere - this is the reason why our local wine industry, which used to be considered rather poor, is now considered to be pretty good.  Even though the style still isn't my favorite, I've found some I like and buy them regularly, but not all the time - I also buy other things I like.  If I am buying gifts, at Christmas or other times, I tend to think first about what is available locally, rather than seeing if I can find a local version of something I've already decided upon.

 

 

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