Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Why Buy Local? An Independent Retailer Speaks out about American-Made

I'm just another independent retailer struggling to stay in business, competing against the big box stores, trying to keep the variety, service and quality that our shop offers after 32 years in business. Many large companies choose to sell inferior imports from China, a country with low or non-existent standards of food safely. This seriously compromises the concept of quality and standard of family pride that many long-time American manufacturers have assured Americans for years was their mission.

When large corporations buy from China, they bypass multi-generational American businesses that have operated here in the good old USA for years, decades, sometimes over a century. Those companies employ our people; American citizens; your neighbor, friend or relative. When big box stores take their business overseas for cheaper products, they directly hurt these American manufacturers - not only are they losing orders, sales and work for their employees, they also now have fewer and fewer small stores in existence that do buy from them. Because, as every city begins to look the same, with the standard array of big box giants, the small businesses are overlooked.

I am just a small potato in this equation. If you shop at my store, I then can turn around and support these fine US candy makers. However, I'm a tiny retailer - and year ago when my kind were welcomed, appreciated, and patronized, that might have been fine. Now I'm a dinosaur - an antique - as few people really even notice my business.... it’s simply not as big as the chain stores or doesn't offer the latest made in China gummy cartoon character. They look in the door with pity almost - "oh, look, another cute little shop trying to make it" - as if I'm nothing more than a collectible remnant from the past.

Those new gummy candies that your children are clamoring for? They're made in China. If I order them I'm not only lowering our standards of quality, but I'm robbing the US-based companies of some business. That is money I do continue to spend here in our country - so for even the tiny amount of business I do with these places - at least I didn't sell out and turn against them by carrying product from overseas. Then again, I'm just a small potato. One of my loyal customers has heard me say just that - that we're not enough support to keep US manufacturers in business, now that the big chains have opted to sabotage their well being. He has the answer: "Yes, you are a tiny retailer, but from many small potatoes gathering together, can come an army of spuds." An army of spuds. And we COULD be - those of us still left trying to keep our business running, pay bills, explain WHY we're better and worth shopping at. There is just so much stacked against us; we don't have the slick glossy ads of sale items - because our prices are good anyway. We do not have that wi-fi cafe in the front of our mall-like building. We don't offer the latest greatest candy with lead or other toxins in it. There are just so many things we don't seem able to offer you - the consumer - right?

There is however, so much we do have. You just have to make the choice not to follow the person in front of you; to think for yourself; make your own choices. There is no law saying you must shop at giant stores - you decided that on your own - but then in ten years, will there be anywhere else to go? I might not be here then, at which time everyone will mourn the passing of the tiny shops that offered so much.

Live Local USA | A voice for small business.
Connect with us and share the message @