Custom Search

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Another Budget Category: Community

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?


hostess of the humble bungalow said...

It sounds like it might be an adventure for you to patronize local venues...I'd try it and see if you get your money's worth...nothing ventured nothing gained!
I try new restaurants if I have heard good things about them...and some of my regular shopping spots are what I'd call family businesses.
I like the personal interaction...we have a sense of community and I feel they value me as a customer and I value and support their business.

metscan said...

Our village just outside Helsinki is very small. There are no shops, no nothing right here. Well, we now buy oats for our horses from a farm across the road, also the sawdust, used in the stable, comes from nearby. We do our grocery shopping( =my hb ) from stores he happens to drive by. I favor the local hairdresser, 5 km south in one of the two centers of this rural district. And we favor the local vet for our dogs. The horses have their own. That´s about it.

Northmoon said...

I don't mind paying more to patronize local businesses. If nobody shops there soon we won't have a choice - there will be nothing but big box stores and malls. This limits our product choice and costs the environment more as things are shipped from far away.

Besides, my local walk to hardware store prices are sometimes lower than Home Depot!

see you there! said...

I try to support locally owned bookstores, I buy books for gifts. I also support the local coffee roaster but they happen to be the one I'd choose no matter where I bought their product (Peets is avail in some supermarkets). I support the local pasta shop, cheese shop, produce market - not at all frugal but I prefer their food. I don't really think you should have to change habits drastically to keep a business running tho - if you don't go out to lunch it isn't like you are supporting a chain and ignoring the locals.


Funny about Money said...

That's an interesting idea.

I mostly just try to shop locally whenever I can. It's not much of a big city's commerce now consists of chain stores and restaurants. Really, it's easier to shop local if you drive to outlying small towns, where few chains bother. Yarnell, AZm has several really great local businesses.

Frugal Scholar said...

@hostess--Actually. both my groceries are locally owned. I tend not to be a restaurant-goer because I like to cook...that's the main area where I'm thinking of change.

@metscan--So everything is local, in a sense. Here, almost everything is now a chain, though less in New Orleans than in most places in the USA.

@Northmoon--We love the local Feed and Seed. We patronize 3. The quintessential small business.

@SEeyou--I realized--above--that my groceries are local. So are many of the products we buy IN the groceries. Otherwise, I'm a thrift/secondhand shopper. Maybe that's local?

Frugal Scholar said...

@Funny--Since I live in a small town, I think it's easier for me. Maybe it's just that I am a homecooking thriftshopper--so I'm not a typical consumer....Now I'm trying to decide if Goodwill counts as a local store!