By Diane Ako
This Christmas, I've been making a concerted effort to buy local. This is my good-citizen suggestion to you to consider the same.
There's not one singular incident that happened to get me to arrive at this conclusion, and it's probably an assortment of several things: maturity that develops a growing feeling of ownership in a community; an awareness of small and local businesses from a personal standpoint of being married to a small business owner and being old enough to have a fair number of friends who own businesses (FYI don't assume by this that I'm Republican); and just being around long enough to have heard that "Buy Local" slogan enough years to finally have it sink in.
For the past three, four, five years or so, I've moved in this direction, and every year I've lived it a little more. I've come to eschew the coupons for Macy's (and I have loved Macy's for decades!) in favor of Cinnamon Girl or Kailua Verde, even if it means paying more. For my plant purchases, I try to shop at Ko'olau Farmers' locally owned co-op instead of national chain giant Home Depot. Craft fairs are great, too.
I said I try; I didn't say I get it 100 percent of the time. I still go to Costco on occasion. I will buy things from a franchise operation if I'm under deadline to get a gift.
I wonder if I've subconsciously tapped into the energy of a much larger movement? Last summer, the first concept of a "cash mob" appeared in suburban New York. Basically, an organizer selects one local store to be "mobbed" by shoppers in a one day period. Since July 2011, it's picked up steam - and press - across the country. A take off of the flash mob, this one actually has a civic goal- to support the local economy.
According to the November 5, 2012 issue of Time magazine, "Studies have shown that spending money at local businesses has a bigger impact on the local economy than shopping at big chains. Even the most spendthrift cash mob can't make a business in a single day, but many mobbed owners say their real payout came over time, through repeat customers and increased name recognition. 'We depend on word of mouth,' says Scott Duennes, whose natural-food store, Nature's Bin, was mobbed last spring. The siege raised the store's profile and turned first-time shoppers into second-timers, he says."
To be clear, I'm not trying to organize a cash mob here. I think the idea is great and I'll try to support one if I'm told, but I haven't the time to host one. I'm just heartened by the reminder that local spending creates a positive ripple effect.
Isn't that a warming sentiment appropriate for the holidays?