Going Local—100% Upside

This guest blog post was written by David Stempien.

My pic

Last week, I became a Localist.

I’m not an economics expert. Nor am I a small business owner. These days, I’m just finding myself more appreciative of the business men and women who take a chance and open up their own shop.

It all started about a year ago when a friend recommended trying a new place for dinner in Chandler called Barrelhouse. So my wife and I went, and we were gastronomically pleased. But there was more to it than the food. We talked extensively with the waiter. He spoke of other new ventures popping up locally, and advised us to keep our eyes open for them. He was well-connected to other local business owners and over the course of our meal, we got the insider’s view of a network of people offering new experiences to Arizona consumers like us.

And there was still more. There was the unique, cozy atmosphere stuffed into an older strip mall, and it felt like there was some new vitality in a place I wouldn’t have gone to otherwise. Which made me think; why not stop in at some of the other stores here? It’s a pretty good motivator if you want more diversity in your strip malls.

After a few stories from our waiter about the owner, I felt a great deal of appreciation of risk-takers who strike out on their own, working 80-hour weeks to get their business off the ground. I felt like I was helping. Not because I was charitable—but because they earned it. So I made a vow to “go local” as often as possible.

So much for the emotional side of localism. It feels good. It’s fulfilling. But if you’re a left-brainer, here’s some fodder for you. I consider myself a rational, data-driven consumer—at least as best I can be. I see the studies that show spending on local businesses keeps more money in the state, a couple of which are illustrated on this website. That motivates me, too. It just makes sense. If you shop locally, it helps the state—the whole state; the people, the government, the culture, the business environment. It’s the circle of economic life, Arizona style.

Your turn. Go record a song in a local studio. Buy some Arizona produce and get some fiber in your system. Stop into the nearest custom shop and put those new rims on your car. And take a few friends to that local bar you haven’t tried yet. See how you feel. It’ll be good, I bet—so good that you’ll be motivated to write the next guest blog.