Advocating For Localism

Former LFA Intern, Lore Contreras, recently shared with her class, what being a Localist means to her.  Lore Contreras helping out as an LFA Intern.

"Hello my name is Lorena and I am a Localist. Considering my self as a Localist means that I make a conscious effort to invest my time and money in locally owned businesses and organizations to help sustain Arizona’s economy. This lifestyle is simple if you ask me. Without even realizing many of you are already doing it. How? Say monsoon season got your car dirty. Metro Car wash is voted one of the best car washes in town and on Tuesdays they have two for one car washes. Another simple Localist lifestyle choice is heading to Downtown Tucson for the night life and entertainment, shopping at a store such as Bookman’s to purchase books or sporting goods; farmer’s markets and food trucks. All around town there are local businesses. Local does not always mean small. You could bank with a credit union like Vantage West Credit Union. We as individuals decide where we want to spend our money. We can choose to invest in a positive impact for Arizona’s economy by actively thinking local, shopping local and being local.

You are probably wondering... Can I really make that much of an impact by buying a worn t-shirt from Buffalo Exchange? The answer will probably be no. Because it is not easy to be 100% local, in reality, a majority of us “localists” probably aren’t and will never bee 100% local. However, we can try to be consistent by thinking of ways that we can positively impact our communities with small and simple shifts in how we spend our money: even allocating 10% of our shopping or spending to local businesses can make a huge difference! A study examining the impact of local businesses on the western Michigan economy for Local First Grand Rapids Michigan made by Local Works shows that if consumers shift just 10% of their spending to local business, it would be generate more jobs and bring more money back into the local economy. In detail, it proves that for every $100 spent at a locally owned business, $73 remains in the local economy. But, for every $100 spent at a non-locally owned business, only $43 remains in the local economy, and $57 leaves. That is a big thing to think about, especially considering that spending money adds up. Yet if we can’t help and spend money every day to get our daily coffee fix at a chain coffee shop, we can instead make a difference by shifting over to one of the many locally owned coffee shops around town. All of which are unique with local vibes, a sense of community, and excellent baristas with stories to tell

Farmers Markets are a great way to meet the people growing the food for your family.

You can decide what is better for our economy because you have control of your spending. Where you invest your money can create a ripple effect and that ripple effect is called revenue. If you spend money online, be aware that although you might be paying taxes and shipping to the provider, your dollars will probably not be invested in our local Arizona economy. To create positive revenue, you want to invest not in national corporations, but instead change your spending habits and invest in local companies. Companies like Amazon, Walgreens and clothing stores such as Forever21 serve their purpose and we rely on them for our necessities. Yet if we can find a local substitution for them in our own communities, we can make a difference by deciding where we spend our money. For example, locally owned grocery stores like Johnny Gibson’s Downtown Market or Bashas’, are great alternatives to national chain grocery stores. Another example is substituting your Subway with delicious local sandwich shop options like Beyond Bread or Bagging’s. The local businesses will be the one paying state taxes without subsidies. These taxes will then go into our public schools and universities, help sustain government wages for our firefighters and law enforcement officers and last but not least employ within their own business. YES! By spending local you are not just spending money, you are rippling an investment into our communities and you are sustaining jobs, building better streets and saving energy…all of which are beneficial to our Tucson community.

The local movement goes beyond dining and entertainment. We have local plumbers, marketing specialists, law firms, yoga studios…you name it! By shopping or hiring locally you are also giving the local business owners the opportunity to work together and create jobs for more people in your community. Many of them work together and collaborate when they are part of organizations such as Local First Arizona or chambers of commerce. They are comrades and give each other a hand when it comes to business, helping each other grow and benefit Tucson. These partnerships create a useful network of support, and their integrity shows a side of humanity (business owners) that has nearly vanished in many of the corporate companies that have taken over our economy.

Local businesses are also more likely to give back to their communities.

To be a localist, all it takes is making a bit of conscious effort to make a difference. In this day and age, we have unparalleled access to information & with the click of the search button, we can get instant information on whatever topic we are interested in. This allows us as consumers to make the most educated decisions about where we want to spend our money and help put money back into our local economies. Once you are in that Localist mind set, you will see how easy and exciting it can be…because being local is not just an Arizona thing, it is a national and even worldwide thing. It is an adventure to find the local gems in a community anywhere that you travel, because personal customer service and good quality are the essence of locally owned and sustained businesses."