I find myself conflicted when I walk into Walmart or Save On Foods knowing that my purchases are likely not positively affecting my local economy in any way other than the girl at the checkout getting a pay cheque. On the flip side, I cannot afford to do all my grocery shopping at local shops or farmers markets. This conflict is common among the younger generation of people who spend much of their time shopping within a tight budget. I am willing to go out of my way to support local businesses when I can but I am not sure that is always the case for others.
Why do people shop locally in the first place?
- To support their neighbors?
- Put money into the local economy?
- Perpetuate growth in the community?
- Develop relationships?
- Supporting local businesses makes you feel good?
All of these things are legitimate reasons to shop locally and most likely a combination of a few of these points are what drives most people to wake up Sunday morning and go to the market.
Why don’t people shop locally?
- It’s easier to stop in at the grocery store on the way home?
- Generic stores are less expensive?
- People lack the conviction to make the effort? They are lazy?
- Their schedule conflicts with the availability of farmers markets?
- Don’t see the benefit of supporting local businesses?
I suspect that if you weigh the pros and cons of shopping locally, most people would be compelled to do so yet many young people find it easier not to. What is stopping them? I think there are two major barriers stopping people from shopping locally; price and convenience.
With the younger audience, most of the time the decision to purchase comes down to the price of an item and how it fits into their budget. If I were shopping at a market feeling constrained by my budget, I would be more likely to purchase something knowing how much I was paying in comparison to what I might pay at a grocery store. Although it would be more work for the vendors, they could price match their items and potentially sway those people who are more price sensitive into a purchase. For example, if I were to walk through the Moss street market and see a veggie vendor with their price listed as well as the average price of that same item at a grocery stores, I would feel more confident that I was making a good purchase because I could see how it was affecting my budget. The key here is doing the work for the consumer because unfortunately, they are more likely not to buy something that go through the trouble of making the comparison themselves.
One of the things I am starting to see that is a great way to attract more people is markets on different days of the week. This is a great way encourage new people to attend markets or encourage those who can’t make it in the weekends to still shop locally.
Where can you shop?
Check out the guide to your local farmers markets at Farm Fresh
Giving as much choice and opportunity for people to shop local will hopefully start the movement of those 20 somethings with a budget to shop more at local markets and less at big box stores. Although I do live within a fairly small budget, I have made it my goal to do at least one big shop per week at a local market. I encourage everyone to take baby steps at least to do their part in supporting local business!