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It is Not Always Easy to Think and Act Local First

January 24, 2010

Well, the Holidays and end-of-year stuff (bookkeeping, inventory, etc.) are mostly behind me.  And along with getting a new calendar, comes the usual introspection.  And with introspection comes the obligatory resolutions.  I won’t bore you with things like “working out more” or “blogging more often.”  However, I do want to share some thoughts on something important to me, even more so in the current economic times—the personal choice of “buying local.”

There are many economic and moral views/debates about this topic.  The hard reality is that making purchase choices based on feelings or attitudes are mostly the luxury of those with the discretionary means to do so.  The underemployed parents or unemployed worker are less likely to care about buying the $5.00 handful of local, organic veggies when an enormous bag of pre-washed salad costs less than $3.00 at Wal-Mart.  It would be hard to argue otherwise.

For those with ample means, the Internet has rapidly taken choice to a whole new level.  Today, the consumer who was likely to pay a little more for a book at The Tattered Cover versus paying less at Wal-Mart, now has a Kindle and doesn’t buy physical books at all.  This is not necessarily a good or bad thing, nor is the point to rail against inevitable progress.  Rather the point is to encourage each of us to take some time to think about our choices and the potential consequences of those choices.

At Amore Fiori, I try to buy local as much as possible.  This includes using local growers when possible, featuring locally created products in our stores, and using locally owned services.

Some of my favorite local products include:

 In my personal life, I’ll choose Daz Bog over Starbucks, the farmer’s market over Safeway, and Shells & Sauce over Macaroni Grill.  I do this for the following reasons:

  1. Economic Impact As a small business owner, I feel an obligation to financially support my local community.  Studies show for every $100 spent in local, independent stores, $68 returns to the community through taxes, payroll, and other expenditures. If you spent in a national chain, only $43 stays here; and if spent online, $18 stays at home.
  2.  The Environment – By buying things made closer to home, we significantly reduce fossil fuel use, reduce our carbon impact and save money – shipping is expensive if you are not Wal-Mart.
  3. Local Flavor – The experience at a local establishment is completely different – providing the local fl­avor of the area, a personal connection, and a sense of place.
  4. Community Giving – Local entrepreneurs are more connected to our community, because they live here, too.  They are more likely to get involved in community efforts, give to local charities, and work to make Denver an even better place to live.

I recently became aware of a very powerful idea, the 3/50 project.  The project has a simple mission, namely to save the brick and mortar, small businesses our nation is built on. And it is easy to do.

Think about the independently owned, local businesses you would miss if they disappeared.  Stop in and say hello.  And commit to spending a minimum of $50 each month in 3 of these businesses.  Your purchases are what keep those businesses around.  That is it, 3 businesses, $50 each month.

Amore Fiori is a proud supporter of this initiative as are many other Colorado businesses.  Please check out www.the350project.net, read more about the project, and become a supporter.

As a small business, we have to continue to differentiate ourselves, offer great value, and provide amazing service.  At the same time, options for consumers will continue to grow.  In the end, consumers will vote with their money.  So take some time to think about what is important to you.  If you are checking your Amazon account on your iPhone as you walk by your favorite Larimer Square shop, there may be a time when that shop is no longer there.  There is only one person who can decide the outcome…you.  And so it goes.

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