Buying Local

Question: do you save more money by driving farther to a big chain, than you would by stopping at the local store on the way home from work?

If just half the employed U.S. population spent $50 each
month in independently owned businesses, their purchases
would generate more than $42.6 billion in revenue.*
Imagine the positive impact if 3/4 of the employed
population did that.

For every $100 spent in independently owned stores,
$68 returns to the community through taxes, payroll, and
other expenditures. If you spend that in a national chain,
only $43 stays here. Spend it online and nothing comes home.

Thus runs the provocative poster of the 3/50 Project.  Shop local?  Where?  How?  Why?  Find out here:
  • puts you in touch with thousands of local stores and how to find more.  
  • Access the American Independent Business Alliance here
  • Indie Store Finder:  find independent stores mapped within ten miles of your home by typing in your zipcode.
  • Try the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies to search by state for networks of local stores.
  • Books:  use the search engine at Alibris to locate booksellers in your area.  With the Alibris site, type in your city and sort sellers by most books.  When you do the math, you'll see that you could find the used book you wanted at a nearby store and save yourself $3.99 in postage by asking them to hold it for you and picking it up while you're doing errands.  Spend a little on gas, save on postage, keep local businesses open, jobs and good stores in your area.  Why should only big cities be able to afford awesome used bookstores? 
  • Groceries:  Local Harvest: Family Farms.  Type in your zipcode and find local farms in your area and a list of their produce, hours, directions, and websites.  And another similar index is at
Also, if you're ever in the Milwaukee-Chicago area, you might check out Will Allen with Growing Power.  He's helping people build community gardens and small farms in urban settings.  His goal is to make buying local not just a luxury that only a few can afford.  He has it in mind to make it accessible to everyone--a goal I heartily sympathize with.  Buying local serves the community in so many ways.  Yet it is financially difficult for the backbone of communities--large families--to participate.  I also like how he decided not to be "officially organic" because that's a buzzword that takes hours of time filling out government forms.  Who cares--just grow stuff.  Probably "local" will become a certified word soon, and you'll have a mom and pop telling you that although they did grow these tomatos in their yard, planted, mulched, hoed and picked them, they're not officially local.



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