Shop local also means picking local merchants

Published 8:19 am Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Just a personal clarification on shopping locally. Just because a store is in Albert Lea, doesn’t really mean that you are shopping locally. Big-box stores send nearly 75 percent of every dollar you spend back to their home office. They don’t spend money locally other than payroll, property purchases and taxes. True local merchants keep their money in local banks, use a local attorney and have a local accountant do their taxes. So by supporting one local merchant, you are truly supporting several. A local merchant is also more likely to be able to either help you find an item they don’t currently carry, or recommend someone who does.

Sometimes you have no choice but to shop a chain store or big box (for instance there is no truly local fabric store), but even that is preferable to shopping online. So many people tout shopping locally, yet traffic at the Albert Lea Farmers Market is spotty at best (and none of the non-venders who have written about the farmers market have stopped at my booth).

What could be more local than items grown, baked or handmade and sold there? Paying lip service to “shop local” while you are driving to Wal-Mart for your weekly shopping fix doesn’t really support anything but your own need to feel like you have contributed.

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Patti Floyd

Albert Lea