Friday, November 29, 2013

Best of AM Black Friday-Is Local Always Best?

This is a slightly reworked post I first wrote in December of 2011, three months after devastating floods hit portions of upstate New York. I reran it Black Friday, 2012.  I thought this would still be appropriate for today, Black Friday.  Sadly, the buying dilemma - local business selling imported goods vs. national business selling local goods - still continues.

The Buying Dilemma

It's a very popular thing right now to "Buy American":  we must maintain our manufacturing base, and save jobs for Americans.  I've been trying to "buy local" (or at least "Made in the U.S.A.") for several years now.

But sometimes the choice is hard.

When we visited the State of Maine two years ago, we were impressed by the pains the people of Maine took to promote items "made in Maine".  There were a number of stores in the Portland and Brunswick, ME areas specializing in Maine-made merchandise:  everything from mustard to Poland Springs water and vodka to blankets to balsam pillows to toothpaste.  Supermarkets featured local foods and beverages in special displays.

But we also found that enough of the merchandise in a Maine institution, Renys, was not made in the U.S.A.

Too many times now, people who want to do right by their fellow Americans face a choice:

Buy merchandise not made in the United States from a local business?

Or buy American from a national chain?

I've wanted to "buy local" in light of the devastating floods that hit our part of upstate NY in September but I am finding that choice isn't so simple.

On Black Friday 2011, we found an area rug in our local Kohl's, on a great sale, and proudly made by Mohawk in the U.S.A.

But in a local gift store in nearby Owego, a town hard hit by the flood, we tried our best to replace Christmas ornaments destroyed in the flood - and found that the majority of the ornaments - and all the patriotic ornaments - were made in China.

Should we have skipped the rug because it was being sold by a large national chain? (no, we bought it.)

Should we have passed on the China-made Christmas ornaments? (this one was harder but we did buy some.)

What about the local Home Depot?  National chain, blocks from our house, hit hard by the flood of September 8, 2011; reopened the day before Thanksgiving.  On Black Friday we were there at 5:05 a.m., passing under a sign saying "Welcome Back, Friends!".  The store was mobbed, and I would bet that some of those employees welcoming us had lost their homes in the flood.  They would have lost their jobs, too, if Home Depot had "hung it up".  (we still try to buy in a locally owned hardware store when possible but some of those Black Friday specials were irresistible.)

These decisions come nearly every day.  Today, I needed a new dish drainboard - and I ended up buying a made in U.S.A. product from Sterlite, in a national chain store (Target). The price was slightly higher than the Rubbermaid (made in China) but I gladly paid it.  But still, it wasn't from a small business. 

In other words, this decision - like so much in life - isn't that simple.  All I can hope is that I make the right decisions with my hard earned shopping dollars.

Is buying local important to you?  If you have the choice between imported merchandise in a local store or local merchandise in a large chain store, what do you do?

2 comments:

  1. I look for American-made items too. And while I patronize small local shops, I think the chain stores play a valuable role too, and can benefit the local economy as long as they pay a decent wage.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Maybe it's time to think of the world as one large group. It seems to me the shops make this decision hard for the buyer. It's not your fault.
    I've written a novel draft of 15 years into the future in which the UK governmant no longer imports goods. Not nice--we appreciate these other products.

    ReplyDelete

Hello! I welcome comments, as long as they are civil, are on topic, and do not contain profanity, advertising of any kind or spam. Any messages not meeting these criteria will immediately be composted, and my flowers will enjoy their contents.