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What Is Local Purchasing?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 27 August 2016
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Local purchasing is a financial strategy that focuses on purchasing goods and services from companies that are locally based or products that are manufactured in the local geographic area even if they are sold by national or international companies. This approach to buying local may involve choices such as purchasing food from a locally owned grocery or buying coffee from a locally owned coffee shop rather than patronizing a national chain. The idea behind local purchasing is often twofold, involving a desire to keep money in the local economy and also to purchase goods and services in a manner that is considered greener and thus kinder to the environment.

Considered a form of eco-communalism, local purchasing involves a conscious effort to structure buying habits so that local small businesses generate enough revenue to remain in business. To some degree, this type of fiscal localism is a reaction to large retail corporations that have the buying clout to purchase goods in bulk and sell them for less, undermining local businesses that cannot afford to buy at similar volume levels. The call to buy local is common when a sizable number of residents within a community wish to prevent the decline and eventual closure of local shops by encouraging consumers to spend their money there instead of with a larger chain that presumably contributes less to the ongoing life of the community.

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Consumers may engage in a limited amount of local purchasing while still doing business with larger retailers and suppliers. For example, households may opt to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables from a farmers market while still purchasing packaged foods from a supermarket chain. In like manner, a business may choose to purchase office furniture from a locally owned office supply business while continuing to buy office equipment from a national provider.

Along with the economic component of local purchasing, the concept attracts some consumers on the basis of being kinder to the environment. This is especially true when the goods do not have to be shipped in from distant locations. By buying locally, there is the chance to reduce the use of fossil fuels and the accompanying emissions into the atmosphere.

The benefits of local purchasing are sometimes called into question by those who oppose any hard and fast rules on where consumers may shop, sometimes citing the efforts of larger companies to become more environmentally friendly and that local offerings may or may not offer the same level of quality or range even when prices are similar. For this reason, many consumers do go with a hybrid approach that combines doing business with local and non-local businesses.

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