Buying local is not a political notion to me, it is very personal, very important. Buying local affects and changes my life in so many different ways. I love buying things from people who know me. A kind of friendship develops, a mutual relationship that is important. It is foolish to sell junk at high prices to people who will be back in a couple of days, people you know. It is easy to do that online, customer and seller will never meet.
It is so important to me to walk into Battenkill Books and know Connie and Kate and Marilyn and Colleen. This morning, Connie alerted me to the fact that "Dancing Dogs" had sold out, was out of stock. I was able to alert my publisher. I don't think Amazon would really care.
Several days a week I go to the Cambridge Food Co-op and talk to Nancy and Kim. When I needed ricotta cheese to make dinner for company, and it hadn't arrived yet at the co-op, Nancy dropped it off at my house on her way home. I am very fond of our hardware store, Ace Hardware in Cambridge also. They have become an influential force in my life, helping me get the tools and information to take care of our home. When I went in to tell them the latch on the pasture gate was broken, they brought me over to the latch section and explained how each of them worked. They suggested a cable to straighten the posts. I got nervous. When I told them it was too complicated for me, Brian said "oh, don't worry, your wife can handle that easily. If she has any questions tell her to stop in and we'll show her how it works. If she doesn't like it, just bring them back."
I laughed at this reality, the salespeople understanding what I could and couldn't do and what Maria can do. When I went to the Post Office and bought some stamps for Maria, Wendy suggested politely that I might consider some different stamps, the kind Maria always bought when she came in. I took her advice.
It is important to be known. Two or three times a week, I come rushing into the hardware store – Red is always welcome, he always gets a biscuit – pleading for help. I always get it. Because of them, I am doing more things for myself, learning how to care for my house, something I have always wanted. I do not want to see any of these stores close or replaced by corporate monoliths – selling cheap stuff and creating bad jobs – or buy these things online just because I don't want to leave the house. These things are precious, they are the fabric of life itself. I am open to new technology, I use it and benefit from it.
But the tragedy of technology is that for every thing it brings, it takes something away. Post offices are closing, mega-chains have pressured community hardware stores, bookstores are fighting for their niche in the world. I'm shopping local. I don't want to live a life of loneliness and disconnection even if it might be cheaper. Price is important, but it is not the only thing that is important.