Go Read A Book: The Localist
Like previously mentioned in our posts, we love all things local. When we ran across a bio in Southern Living about Carrie Rollwagen our interest was piqued. Her book The Localist is an easy, pleasant read that had us re-thinking all of our spending habits. A quick overview of the book, which was funded by kickstarter, is below.
"The Localist: Think Independent, Buy Local, and Reclaim the American Dream is the story of one girl’s journey from buy-local blogger to woman entrepreneur and indie-shop advocate. When Carrie Rollwagen decided to give up corporate shopping for a year and instead shop local-only, she knew that she’d have to learn how to shop local, that she’d discover new indie businesses, and that she’d need to makeover her shopping habits. What she didn't know is that she'd save money, discover how to connect with her community, and learn to love indie business more than the big box stores she'd bought from all her life."
Carrie started her localism story as a blog and eventually turned it into a book so her writing style is very conversational and informal. It feels like you’re chatting with a friend at a (local) coffeeshop as you read, laughing about mishaps and pondering on our power as consumers. While it was a pleasant read, we would have loved to have seen a few more graphs and stats on the impact shopping local has on the community, but overall the microeconomics of the book was sound. We took away a desire to shop more locally, but the book also totally changed our mindset on money and spending. It’s easy to spend an extra $20 on a target run that we didn’t plan on because we “needed” those extra items. But really, did we need another shirt and decorative frame? No, we absolutely did not and we will likely lose/break those items in 3 months. After reading The Localist it hit us that every single dollar we spend has an impact and we need to value these small incremental spends. Every dime we spend goes somewhere, supporting someone. Wouldn’t we rather it be a local company than a large corporation that doesn’t care about our community?
There are many reasons to shop locally, many of them sentimental (Carrie does a great job of highlighting these in her book). Protecting local character, strengthening community ties, sustainability, etc. After reading this book we started doing more research to try and find economical studies that support the idea of shopping locally. We won't get too into the weeds on numbers, but here are a few facts to chew on.
1) More than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, and they create about two out of every three new jobs in the U.S. each year.
2) Your dollars spent in locally-owned businesses have three times the impact on your community as dollars spent at national chains. When shopping locally, you simultaneously create jobs, fund more city services through sales tax, invest in neighborhood improvement and promote community development.
3) For very $100 spent at a locally-owned business, $73 remains in the local economy, and $27 leaves. Compare that to the same $100 spent at a non-locally owned business, where $43 remains in the local economy and $57 leaves. Recent research indicates that local eateries return nearly 79 percent of revenues to the community, compared to just over 30 percent for chain restaurants.
We encourage people to check out The Localist because if nothing else, it's thought-provoking. All big businesses aren't bad, all small businesses aren't perfect. But remember that every dollar you spend is a like a vote. Who, what, and where are you supporting when you cast that vote?