Here is a post I first wrote in December of 2011, three months after devastating floods hit portions of upstate New York, including the neighborhood where I live.. I have updated it slightly. Sadly, the buying dilemma - local business selling imported goods vs. national business selling local goods - still continues.
For example, our local shopping mall has a seasonal business called Shop 607. (607 is our phone area code.) I've bought from them before, and was pleased by the quality of items made by local artisans. But, this year, I found a number of items for sale by the local businesses that were not made in New York State. In fact, one item for sale was made in San Francisco - which is about 2,800 miles (4500 km) from where the mall is located in Johnson City, New York. (If anyone from Shop 607 wishes to contact me, I would be pleased to expand on my disappointment.)
|One Display on Small Business Saturday, November 26, 2016|
But sometimes the choice is hard.
When we visited the State of Maine in September of 2011, we were impressed by the pains the people of Maine took to promote items "made in Maine". There were a number of stores in the Portland and Brunswick, ME areas specializing in Maine-made merchandise: everything from mustard to Poland Springs water and vodka to blankets to balsam pillows to toothpaste. Supermarkets featured local foods and beverages in special displays.
But we also found that enough of the merchandise in a Maine institution, Renys, A Maine Adventure, was not made in the U.S.A.
Too many times now, people who want to do right by their fellow Americans face a choice:
Buy merchandise not made in the United States from a local business?
Or buy American from a national chain?
Back in November of 2011, I wanted to "buy local" in light of the devastating floods that hit our part of upstate NY in September but I am finding that choice isn't so simple.
On Black Friday 2011, we found an area rug in our local Kohl's, on a great sale, and proudly made by Mohawk in the U.S.A.
But in a local gift store in nearby Owego, a town hard hit by the flood, we tried our best to replace Christmas ornaments destroyed in the flood - and found that the majority of the ornaments - and all the patriotic ornaments - were made in China.
Should we have skipped the rug because it was being sold by a large national chain? (no, we bought it.)
Should we have passed on the China-made Christmas ornaments? (this one was harder but we did buy some.)
What about the local Home Depot? National chain, blocks from our house, hit hard by the flood of September 8, 2011; reopened the day before Thanksgiving. On Black Friday we were there at 5:05 a.m., passing under a sign saying "Welcome Back, Friends!". The store was mobbed, and I would bet that some of those employees welcoming us had lost their homes in the flood. They would have lost their jobs, too, if Home Depot had "hung it up". (we still try to buy in a locally owned hardware store when possible but some of those Black Friday specials were irresistible.)
These decisions come nearly every day. Today, I needed a new dish drainboard - and I ended up buying a made in U.S.A. product from Sterlite, in a national chain store (Target). The price was slightly higher than the Rubbermaid (made in China) but I gladly paid it. But still, it wasn't from a small business.
In other words, this decision - like so much in life - isn't that simple. All I can hope is that I make the right decisions with my hard earned shopping dollars.
What do you think?
Day 26 of NaBloPoMo.