Buying stuff. We all do it. But what should we be thinking about as we part with our money?
Why do we pick who we buy things from? Online shopping, obviously, can offer a broad choice and it’s – sometimes – cheaper. It also has the convenience of 24/7 availability. Mind you, that can be a poison chalice: I read a while back that there is a lot of impulse shopping done late in the evening – and the impulses are later regretted.
With our spending including in cafes, bars, restaurants and so on, there’s the shopping centre/town centre experience but that’s often a bit of an identikit drudge. Traffic queues to get there (at least in peak times), stonking car park charges and all the outlets (of all varieties) more-or-less the same as in any other shopping/town centre.
And then there’s the local option – and, here in Caversham and Emmer Green at least, that’s all a bit more positive. We are very fortunate with a good variety of unique outlets on our doorstep. As icing on that cake, some of these – from pubs and cafes to dentists and clothes shops – have either won or been short-listed for awards.
Buying locally generally means more of the money you spend stays local, and thus it goes back into the local economy. And there’s also a high probability that, overall, it has a smaller carbon footprint. (Walking to the shops; driving fewer miles to the shops; and so on.)
Throw into the mix, too, that local business owners are far more likely to be paying local tax. Thus, a portion of your spending with them can come back to you in the form of local (and national) government spending – roads, schools, rubbish collection, health and care services and whatever else.
In contrast, while you might save a little money by buying from some international company, the profits made by the seller are very unlikely to benefit you at all. Let’s face it, the Amazons of this world aren’t famous for paying local taxes.
And there’s another angle to buying locally that can easily be overlooked: people. In discussions about this side of life you’ll often come across talk of ‘community’ and that’s all well and good. But that’s a very general and vague term. If you focus, instead, on people it all gets a bit more meaningful. If you are buying locally then over time you will start to see the same people. Over time, you start to acknowledge one another. Over time, a few words. And from there … well, who knows.
As with all social interactions – the possibilities are varied and wide-ranging. Perhaps you’ll find yourself meeting with people who reflect your personal likes and interests. Perhaps you’ll meet people who lead you down wholly new paths. However, if there’s one thing you can be sure about, it is that nothing at all will happen without the initial personal contact that comes with buying locally.
To try and wrap up all the above, you might have already heard the phrase ‘use it or lose it’ applied to local businesses. What we all need to remember is that it’s very true. And local businesses make a very far reaching contribution to local lives, in a wide variety of ways. If they go, we all lose out. And once they’re gone, it will be very hard to replace them.
Related items on this site:
We offer our personal recommendations on the food and drink front here:
And we look at some different aspects to eating-out here:
For more details of local businesses, there’s no better place to start than the Choose Caversham site: