The Rapidian

Beyond the poll: join the "shop local" conversation

Go beyond this week's poll and join in conversation about what shopping local really means to you.
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According to the Local First website: "Significantly more money recirculates in West Michigan when consumers choose to support our locally owned businesses. Unlike their national competition, locally owned businesses regularly purchase from other local retailers, manufacturers, service providers and farms. Supporting our locally owned businesses is critical in growing a strong West Michigan economy and tax base."

The effect of shopping local

The effect of shopping local /Local First

Normally the weekly Rapidian poll is designed to stand on its own: created for fun, to offer an idea for quiet consideration, or to encourage brief exchanges between fellow Rapidians.

This time though, I want to personally encourage everyone to use this week's poll and its commenting space to engage in conversation about what “Shop Local” means to you. The concept is spoken of frequently (and increasingly) to indicate a philosophical position or to punctuate a value system. But saying and doing are not always the same.

According to Local First, a 2008 Kent County survey determined that a mere 10% shift toward shopping at locally owned businesses would create 1600 new jobs and add $140 million in new local economic activity. But how do we best help that happen? We can start by better understanding where we are right now. I challenge you to join in conversation to paint a picture of how “Shop Local” plays out in your day-to-day life. Why or why not? What are the barriers to living up to the philosophy? Is it just a cute saying but impractical in the execution? Can it really be done?  What would make it easier?

As a hyper-local platform, we want to not only host diverse perspectives, but also help illuminate ways to both strengthen our community and enrich our personal lives. Understanding how we can best support our local economy is surely a part of both.

The year’s biggest shopping season just around the corner. Before it begins, please answer the poll, and then take an extra minute to add your thoughts to the conversation.

Disclosure: The Community Media Center, parent organization of The Rapidian, is a member of Local First.

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a highly visible campaign to get people to understand this on a functional level, that it really does translate into jobs, and better services in our communities... and BETTER choices in the products we buy and consume... a "we are the LOCAL 99% in your community" meme for GR featuring REAL people with REAL jobs/opportunites created by people buying local

I feel like we have to do the work to go beyond a tag line like "shop local" and figure out the real barriers to maximizing behavioral change. What barriers are Psychological? Structural? Education based? Do we need to build up elements of convenience or incentive to kick the philosophy into more solid action? I guess I am someone who wants to clearly define the problem, and then create and deploy concrete strategies to make things happen. I am appreciating this conversation.