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Buy local (unless you can’t)

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David DeCristoforo is 100 percent correct in last Friday’s blog on buying local and how it helps the economy. But what happens if you can’t – is the bad economy your fault?

There’s no question that buying patterns have changed. Big Box stores are king now because their prices are hard to beat, and their inventory exceeds most local stores, depending on what you’re looking for. I suspect that David was talking about woodshops – if you want cabinets, you’ll always get better items that are more cost effective (and custom!) than off-the-shelf stuff at the Big Box.

That’s fine for cabinets, because even where I live in Middleofnowhere, W.Va., there are several fine cabinet and millwork shops. But what if I need quality art supplies, or a full-fledged camera shop, or a top-notch hand plane? I won’t find any of those things locally, and all three are categories of things I need to buy with some regularity. For those art supplies, I’ll go to a Big Box craft store chain. For a quality camera, I have little choice but to go to Amazon for one. For a quality hand plane, I buy it either directly from the source or a major online woodworking supplier. The bottom line is that I’m not “buying local” for any of those things, so does that make me a bad person?

There’s also the aspect of cost. I have a very good camera; I need it for woodworking photography. The camera I have, at the time I bought on Amazon, would have cost $231 more at a regular retail camera store, if we had one. But the truth is that even if we did, I couldn’t possibly have been able to buy it. Either way, I wouldn’t have gotten it there, because my family’s personal economy would have suffered.

I wish I had bags of money so I wouldn’t have to worry about how much things cost and where I can afford to purchase. But the fact is that I don’t, and I have to get what I need where I can.



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