Tomorrow is Small Business Saturday. I guess the idea is something like this; after a day of frenzied shopping mostly done at big box stores or online, we pay homage to the flip-side of capitalism, the little businesses in our hometowns, the startups, our friends & neighbors.
On a national scale, our economy needs the big guys. But their impersonal nature often makes them easy targets for criticism. How many people do you know who are vocal in their dislike of Wal-Mart, yet can consistently be found there? There is often slight unease or guilt attached to supporting the big chains, yet in the end, most of us still give them our money. They just make it really easy to spend. If they didn't, they wouldn't be big.
I want to suggest an alternative to big-box-shopping guilt. The solution is to be aware as possible of the supply chain behind what's in our shopping carts. Know where your money is going & spend to support what matters. We don't always have time or money to shop around or make several stops for our shopping list. So we go big.
My challenge is this; use this day (or another free day in the near future) to really find out what your local businesses offer. It's often surprising what a town like Sparta has available. Being aware & staying conscious of what you can buy from local businesses makes it easier to shop local.
As a culture, we need to regain our love for community. We need more person-to-person interaction & less impersonal transactions. We need to experience the beauty of a local economy working together. This isn't about never shopping online or at big-box stores. It's about identifying as a community and putting our money where our mouth is. It's about going home when we shop.
Even if you can't make it to a local shop this Saturday, take some time to think about the people & places who are your local community. Come up with new ways to participate in the unique economy of your hometown.