There have been rumblings here and there on the topic of community, with the basic idea that supporting local businesses is GOOD and increases the quality of life for all. Once one tries to put such support into practice, things get more complex--local businesses may be more expensive than the big-box counterpart, to name only the most obvious objection.
I certainly don't know how to weigh all the facets of the issue against one another. One thing I've noticed though: sometimes local business is very personal. This may be more true for me because I live in a small town.
Here are some local business issues I have encountered.
A good friend opens a coffee shop in another town. It is located far out of my usual way. Plus, I seldom go to coffee shops as a general rule--unless I am in New Orleans or Paris. So, I don't patronize the business. After 5 years, she and her partner call it quits. Should I feel responsible--in a teeny way?
The husband of an instructor in my department opened a small restaurant near school. The husband was in my class ages ago. As a rule, I don't go out for lunch. In fact, Mr. FS and I have been lunching on peanut butter sandwiches for the last 20plus years. Should I go?
Then there are the zillions of other similar stories I could recount. Here is my idea: create a BUDGET CATEGORY for COMMUNITY. That would be separate from your food category (since you don't go out for lunch as a rule) and your giving category (since you are not donating anything). Perhaps we should (or I should) earmark a certain sum each month for patronizing community businesses or events that I might not otherwise.
What do you think of this idea? How do you weigh community concerns into your practices?