I want to start this post off by saying some of you are going to get offended, thats kind of the point. Also some of you may choose to no longer speak with me or whatever and I am ok with that.
Growing up in New York City, we did not really do “Local”. I mean sure there was the local pizza joint, bagel store, deli, cleaners, drug store, Chinese take-out, coffee shop, dollar store, grocery store, Diner, Italian (Greek, Korean BBQ, Jamaican, etc) Restaurant. Wait a minute, seems everything we did was “local” and help support small business. But, wait how can that be, there were no events, no organizations, no one shoving a “Buy Local” agenda down our throats. It is just what we did, and we did not throw a fit of disgust if a national chain moved in next door.
story time – Dunkin Donuts opened across the street from the local Bagel shoppe. Now this bagel place has been in business since before I was born. Every neighborhood kid at some point or another worked for Steve or Jeff. Sure, we all cringed a little knowing the Dunkin was about to open. And yes prices did go up slightly at the Bagel Shoppe. However something amazing happened, The Bagel Shoppe is still open, and so is Dunkin Donuts proving the two can co-exist.
I am a big support of local small businesses as they are the life blood of any local economy. What I am not a supporter of are these “Buy Local Movements”. These movements look to make villains out of major chain establishments. However what they fail to recognize is, small business are no going to employ the people who are employed by major chains. Without the jobs created by the major chains the small business will certainly fail because people will not have money to patronize their business. These movements also create and elitist attitude, almost like a High School Kliq. Wherein not all local business are treated equal.
Example – there are two bars. Bar A pays for membership with a Buy Local organization, Bar B does not. Bar A hosts events for the organization, is mentioned in publications and on the website. Bar B is not. Bar A thrives because of the attention, Bar B does not. Both Bars are local, so why is Bar A better than Bar B? Because Bar A paid for that status.
I love the work that these Buy Local organizations do, however I just think they need to re-focus on how they go about it. The current approach basically is saying some local business are better than others.
Go out support ALL local businesses, not just the ones who every talks about, but explore your city and your community. You may be surprised as to what you find.
Disclaimer – there are many Buy Local organizations both here in Syracuse and across the country. No where in this post have I singled any one out because this is a generalization. There are some, especially here in Syracuse who do amazing work and I will continue to support them. This post is just an observation of how I see things.