From retail shops to farmer’s markets, stickers and posters with the slogan “Buy Local” can be seen plastered just about everywhere these days. They're there to remind shoppers that purchasing goods and services locally supports small community businesses, protects the environment and keeps the local flavor of an area alive.
Based on the disproportionate amount of coverage it receives, you might think that purchasing locally only applies to food. And while it may be the case that locally grown fruits and vegetables are often fresher and more wholesome – not to mention more sustainably harvested – than what is sold in the chain supermarkets, food is certainly not the only product you should be buying locally: wood stove owners who purchase their firewood from local dealers are also doing their part to finance their communities, sustain jobs and secure their nation's energy independence.
It has previously been demonstrated that local purchasing – whether food, hardware, or firewood – makes a lot of fiscal sense. The more local shoppers purchase goods and services from small community vendors instead of large chains, the more self-reliant and resilient the economies of these areas become, experts say. According to a study by the independent British think tank New Economics Foundation, twice the money stayed in the community when consumers bought goods from a local market rather than a chain store. Such evidence echoes what local purchasing advocates have been saying for some time.
"If you're buying local and not at a chain or branch store, chances are that store is not making a huge profit," says David Morris, Vice President of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, a nonprofit economic research and development organization based in Minneapolis and Washington, D.C. "That means more goes into input costs—supplies and upkeep, printing, advertising, paying employees—which puts that money right back in the community."
Moreover, buying local helps keep money circulating in the community by increases the “velocity of money” – the term economists use to describe the rate at which the currency changes hands. Most experts tend to agree that the greater the velocity of money in an area, the better it will be for the local economy. As David Boyle, researcher for the New Economics Foundation explains, “Money is like blood. It needs to keep moving around to keep the economy going."
So whether you’re in the market for food or fuel, it really is better to buy local. By purchasing firewood from your local dealer, you can be assured you are doing your part to help your neighbors and, if you are American, wean the U.S. off of expensive foreign oil.