The focus of this week’s editorial is certainly nothing new; the “go-local” movement has been around for quite some time. This last week I was reminded of how good we have it in Golden when I visited a local restaurant. Prices were incredibly reasonable, the food was great, the service was friendly, and the business was locally owned. My experience had me thinking about how I choose which goods and services to purchase.
While I would not consider myself to be a militant anti-corporatist, there are many reasons to be against shopping at places like Wal-Mart: sweatshop-cheap products, unfair employee wages and benefits, the unmistakable stench of an American dream gone awry… the list goes on. However, it is not enough to simply be against giant retail chains- it takes a community to support local businesses. Driving the go-local movement has been an implied belief that the uniqueness of a town comes from community support and the do-it-yourself work ethic exhibited by local shop owners.
What makes the local movement powerful is that it has a reciprocal relationship with the community. While community members receive the benefit of goods and services, the business re-invest through taxes and salaries while becoming unique institutions within the community context. Apart from the issue of money, creating an institution is what draws a community together. It provides a common place for the exchange of ideas and relationships, the likes of which you’re not likely to find at a big-box retailer.
This entire discussion has been motivated, in some part, by National Record Store Day, a go-local-based pseudo-holiday that celebrates community record stores (which are a dying breed in the era of Best Buy). The challenge is this: next time you’re considering a purchase, go to a place with authentic local character that will support your ideologies.