I’ve been using the Our Slug Life (OSL) Roll-up tool bag for a month. OSL is an Micro, Small & Medium Enterprise (MSME) from Goa, India. Using this bag got me thinking about buying local - its importance and why it is something you should think about too.
But before we do, it is important to understand what “vocal for local” is not. There is nothing patriotic about buying local. I believe that as citizens of common humanity, we must think beyond narrow lines on a map. On the flip side - a product, any product, has to stand on its own merits irrespective of where it is built. However, for a product and a company to reach an international level of finesse means that it needs to be nurtured and sustained. The most oft-heard complaint I hear is that “we do not get proper quality gear in India”. But when we do, do we make an effort to nurture and sustain such an enterprise?
If you have grown in the 80s you may have an inherent bias against Made in India products. Growing up we had to make do with shit quality products because the Indian industry was restricted and protected. This non-competitive industry did dish out some truly memorable poor-quality goods. But, this is not the case anymore. Today we have access to information and gear from all across the world. Buy in this connected world does it make sense to buy local?
“Going local does not mean walling off the outside world. It means nurturing locally-owned businesses which use local resources sustainably, employ local workers at decent wages and serve local consumers. It means becoming more self-sufficient and less dependent on imports. Control moves from the boardrooms of distant corporations and back into the community where it belongs.” (Shuman, Michael H.)
I think it does. Buying local, or nurturing local bike shops is important for many reasons and I will try and list a few here:
Local businesses are the largest employers and create two out of every three new jobs (msme.gov.in). Small businesses employ more than 52 per cent of the nation’s employees. Not only do local businesses create jobs but they also tend to hire locals which in turn leads to…
Money in the community
When money is spent locally, it can in turn be re-spent locally, raising the level of economic activity, paying more salaries, and building the local tax base. This re-circulating of money leads to an increase in economic activity, with the degree of expanse dependent on the percentage of money spent locally. Keeping the community alive
Spending money with local bike shops and with local businesses helps keep the local community alive. The places where we eat, shop, and have fun all have the potential to make a community feel like home. “One-of-a-kind” businesses are a fundamental part of the distinctive character of a community. A community where chain stores exceed the number of independently run small businesses becomes less personal and more homogenised, with less product diversity.
A marketplace of hundreds of small businesses is the best way to ensure innovation and low prices over the long term. A multitude of small businesses, each selecting products based not on a national sales plan but on their interests and the need of their local customers, guarantees a much broader range of product choices.
Locally owned businesses can make more local purchases requiring less transportation and operate from within city centres as opposed to developing on the outskirts of a city. More commercial districts result in fewer vehicle miles travelled and lead to less sprawl. Less transportation also means less traffic congestion, which has the potential to reduce the amount of fuel emission that contributes to air pollution. This means contributing to less sprawl, congestion, wildlife, habitat loss and pollution.
When shopping at local businesses you’re seen as an individual, not a consumer statistic. The rapport that is built between small businesses and their customer is long-standing and the service received is better when you are familiar with the staff.
Local economic growth will attract new talent and professionals, who may, in turn, create businesses of their own, enhancing the local economy. This nurturing has been coined “economic gardening”. This is a new approach to economic development which focuses on strengthening small firms positioned for growth rather than trying to recruit or retain companies that could locate elsewhere like national retailers.
So this is my case for buying and availing of local services. There’s a lot to unpack here but if it does give you food for thought then it is worth identifying local businesses that you can relate to and showing your support by purchasing, nurturing and spreading the word about these enterprises.
Let me know if i’ve convinced you to buy local in the comments below. Meanwhile, keep riding and have a good one. Peace!