Illustration by Patrick Daugherty
Illustration by Patrick Daugherty

Buying Locally

By Jensen Puckett

In this day and age, we can get almost anything with the snap of our fingers. Easy accessibility is one of the most important things for people. Because of this, we have places like Walmart, Amazon, Costco, and a number of chain stores that continue to flourish. While these chain stores do provide cheap, easy goods, there is nothing like buying locally. Buying locally can mean a number of things. It could mean buying fruit from the weekly farmers’ market, rather than buying it at Target. It could mean ordering an outfit from a person starting their own business in their home. It could mean getting coffee from a small coffee shop on the corner, rather than just going to Starbucks.

It’s important to buy locally first and foremost so you can support local businesses and entrepreneurs. People who take time to make all of the stuff they sell or pick all of the produce they sell don’t typically do it just for the money. They care about the quality of their products and they also care about the customers they’re selling to. A lot of small business owners start their businesses because they were tired of not having the quality they knew they could get. When you consistently shop locally, you build personal buyer/seller relationships, which isn’t something you can get at these chain stores. One of the best things you can do is go to a farmers’ market and talk to them about their business. Not only is that a reassurance to them that people enjoy their product, but it also makes the buying experience all the more personal.

When supporting these smaller businesses, you know exactly where your product is coming from. At grocery stores, even when the produce says ‘organic,’ it still undergoes some sort of unnatural processing. These people take time to plant, take care of, and gather the items they sell. If you’re buying something other than food items locally, then you at least know someone took time out of their life to make the product. Unlike mass-produced items, these were made with genuine care and personal attention. Items may not be as perfect as a machine, but they were made from creative people with creative ideas.

People often avoid buying clothing and other products from markets because of the cost and chain stores are more convenient. It’s true that items like clothes and furniture or even household decor are more expensive than what one could buy at your local chain store. Of course it would be difficult to buy every single thing you own from a market, so I am not trying to suggest that. I propose that when you do have the opportunity and the resources to do so, it is important that we are able to support people in their endeavors. Typically these items are more expensive because you’re paying for their time and materials. People who make items to sell spend a lot more time working on their projects and usually products are made with better quality materials, whereas at places like Walmart, they have factories to mass-produce and do not always care about quality. One thing I’ve noticed is that produce is often cheaper at a farmers market than when I buy from the grocery store, so I do like to buy from there when I can. There is a great farmers market behind 2nd & PCH in Long Beach that happens every Sunday from 9 AM to 2 PM. The people are friendly and they even let you try some of their produce before buying it! Another place that has a farmers market close by is the Marina Stadium Farmers Market. It is right by Will Roger Mini Park and it happens every Wednesday from 3 PM to 7 PM.

Shopping locally instead of at chain stores can also have an effect on the environment around us. When buying locally, you can drastically reduce the use of plastic bags and containers that end up in landfills. There are not as many greenhouse gases that are being released from the abundance of food miles traveled by bigger trucks. With a reduction in using plastic wear and cutting back on mass transportation, we can take a small step in having a positive impact on our environment. If you are unable to shop locally as much as you would like, another way we can help is by using reusable bags wherever you go. We cannot always do the best thing because of how much it costs, but we can take small steps in the right direction. With continuous support from buyers, we can keep these businesses running. Supporting local businesses means that we are supporting someone taking a risk, someone trying to establish their own employment.