Opinion: At Truckee-Tahoe, be local and buy local
February 17, 2015
I work for a local supplier here in the Truckee Tahoe region. Many know us to be a company that is highly active in supporting our community. I am very thankful and proud to be a part of it.
It allows me to believe in what I'm selling — not only the product, but what stands behind it. Even as we venture into new markets, we are conscientious of employing their residents, buying their products and joining their boards. We are careful about our approach — not as a leakage in an economy, but an injection into the community.
We all know the importance of buying local, but we need to evaluate the impact our buying decisions have on our economy when deciding where and from whom we buy goods and services.
In my industry, our competitors come down from the other side of the hill, appeasing the conscience of those compelled to buy local by arguing that they are "merely 20 miles away and are very much considered to be local."
However, "local," in context to business, is not defined by vicinity, but by the economy that sustains it and that it sustains in return.
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An economy to a community is like the circulatory system to one's body. Like any living, breathing thing, what is taken out must be replenished in order for it to be sustainable. If money flows out, spent down the road, it is essentially a gaping wound.
Like blood, money has to keep moving around in order to keep an economy thriving. Recycling the money back in will increase the "velocity" of money, or the speed at which it is circulated. Ideally, you want it to circulate quickly and exchange more hands as more people get to benefit from that money and from what it has purchased.
The misconception to higher prices when buying from a local merchant is that they are making huge profits. Look at it from a microeconomic standpoint. Local merchants, particularly in our area, pay higher overhead and input costs — maintenance, advertising, printing and employee wages — which put that money right back into the community to be circulated.
It is found that twice the money stays in the community when it is spent locally. That means that it is twice as efficient at keeping the local economy alive. Moreover, according to the Andersonville Study of Retail Economics, local business generates 70 percent more local economic activity per square foot than big box retail.
And for all those going green, buying locally cuts down on processing, packaging and transportation waste, and is therefore less polluting.
So, if you include yourself to be someone who sleeps better at night knowing that you buy locally, please ask yourself these questions when purchasing goods and services:
Where will they spend the money that you paid them?
Do you see their logos at the local fundraisers or on sponsor banners hanging at our children's sports games?
Do they occupy a chair on any of the local boards of directors?
Are their names called in recognition as contributors to our nonprofit organizations?
Do they employ any of our residents, or are you likely to run into them in line at our local stores?
The answers to these questions are what define "local." The community wishes you a good night's sleep.
Kristine Beaudet is a Truckee resident and employee with Truckee-Tahoe Lumber Company.
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