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January 11, 2012

Shopping local

Hardware store in Olmsted Falls I needed a small bolt and a drill bit, and I was thrilled to find a local hardware store just a few miles away. Hallelujah!

I knew that if I had to go to a big box like Home Depot or Lowe's finding the right size bolt would be nearly impossible. I'd be on my own, searching through racks of plastic-encased hardware.

On the other hand, any hardware store guy could take my sample and find a match in a few seconds, as the guy at Brown Hardware in Olmsted Falls did.

As I paid for my $7 purchase (bolt + drill bit) I told him how happy I was to find his store and not have to go to Home Depot. He seemed less than enthused by my comment. As I pulled out of the parking lot, where mine was the only car, it struck me why he might be entitled to be a tad cynical.

He understood that today he got my 7 bucks, but most of the time I'd be at Home Depot spending $50, $100 or more. And I wouldn't have been the only car in the Home Depot parking lot.

The choices we make shape our communities. Every time you and I buy from the big box store to save a few bucks we're slowly strangling the Brown Hardwares of the world.

A group called The 3/50 Project calculates that for every $100 we spend in local, independent stores, $68 goes back to the community in taxes, payroll and other expenditures. Spend the same $100 in a national chain store and just $43 stays in the community. Buy online and nothing stays in your community.

It's a tough choice, especially when your budget is tight, but at least think about shopping local. Do it as often as you can.


Folks in a nearby town organize a "Cash Mob" to support their local hardware store. [added 1/31/12]

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