I never met my paternal grandfather.
He died before I was born, so all I have is second-hand accounts of who he was and what he valued.
And though he was at times a bit of a rascal, one thing was certain beyond any doubt - he loved his hometown.
On a recent spontaneous road trip with my dad to see his side of the family, I got to hear about his deep and abiding love for the small town where he lived and died.
As memories and mementos were passed around the cornbread and butter, my aunt told us one of the ways he lived out his romance with sweet Alexandria, TN - he only bought from locally owned shops. In doing so, he poured his earnings back into the community of which he was so proud, and supported his friends and family, many of whom owned the stores he frequented.
I had heard all this before. These stories were not new to me. But on this particular trip I was struck with a sense of respect for the man who was viewed most of his life for being backward and allergic to change, but in this way was simply adhering to what he knew to be right, which is so rare and worth emulating.
Unlike during my grandfather's time, information on why local purchases make a difference is readily available anywhere there is access to the internet.
To make it easy, here is a brief overview of why shopping locally is so beneficial:
Studies have shown that buying from locally-owned, independent businesses results in much more of our money being used to buy from other local businesses - much more so than when we purchase from a nationally-owned store. This domino effect strengthens the economy of our communities over and over, making our purchases stretch much further than that first purchase.
Reduce Environmental Impact
Nationally-owned businesses must transport their product much further than locally-owned stores, most of which can purchase from the businesses in our communities, reducing transportation and the environmental consequences that come with long hauls. This results in generally less waste, congestion, and pollution.
Keep the Community Unique
Not only does a multitude of small businesses spurn innovation and more attention to the needs of local patrons, but maintaining one-of-a-kind businesses preserves the flavor of a community. Restaurants, shops, and service providers unique to the community are what contribute most to the experience of living there. Plus, local businesses are owned by people who are interested in the future of the community, and are therefore invested in its well-being.
Keep it simple, keep it local.