I cast my vote yesterday, I’ll do it again today, and probably tomorrow too. I bet you cast a vote or two yourself and didn’t realize it. We seldom stop to consider the great power we yield. We are… CONSUMERS! All powerful beings wielding the power to shape the very world we live in…. mwaahh ha ha ha!
Seriously though, money = influence. I think we are all aware of this concept, and we know all too well how this fun little game plays out in politics. But that isn’t what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the power we yield with our lousy five bucks. Five bucks that is dispensable to us, yet indispensable to others. Our grocery money might not have the power of international influence but it can move mountains in your home town. Wouldn’t it be nice to see and feel your influence right as it’s happening, the power of change coursing through your very hands, capitalism bending at your very will… MMMWWAAHH HA HA HA! Sorry, sorry.
Democracy should work like this, one voice = one vote. We all know that’s not always the case. But where it does work is right here, where your voice is heard loud and clear. When you choose to give your vote, and subsequently your money, to a local businesses in your town the impact will be immediate and tangible. Your support is the deciding factor of whether they remain on Main St. or fade away like others before them. Whether the next generation inherits the farm or a development goes up in it’s place. Whether your farmer’s market is bursting with fresh local produce, baked goods and jams, or knock-off purses and cell phone covers. That’s a lot of responsibility I know, but it’s the simple and all too real truth of what is happening in our communities. If not you, then who?
I work with a lot of farmers, producers, shop owners. I frequent farmer’s markets, both as a consumer and as a seller. I run a business that strives to support other businesses. I talk to a lot of folks on both sides of the equation about this very thing. I apologize if you are one of these people who have been stuck in one of my 45 min. rants on said subject. Basically I talk a lot, and I am always surprised when I am met with confusion as to the state of affairs. Let me be very clear. Many of these businesses, the farm that gives you the warm and fuzzies as your tots board the hay wagon, the multi-generational family owned businesses that produce your favorite jams and honey, the new exciting upstart that sets your hipster heart aflutter… they are all about one bad season away from calling it quits.
Now, my intention here is not to scare you into buying local or make you sad, so if I’m going in that direction I apologize and please allow me to right the ship. I only wish to lay out the stakes, as they really are, for you to judge. As business owners we don’t talk about this with our clientele. It is generally agreed upon that when someone asks you “How’s business?” you say “great!”… no matter what. As we should. No one wants to buy from a sad, mad purveyor of goods, it’s all part of the job. We present ourselves well at all times. If a business is slipping to the point that you notice, it is generally too late to do anything about. This is the dilemma you see? This is why I am choosing to shed light on a dim subject. I want you to have a say, you must have one!
Now having said that, options are a privilege we don’t all have. Sometimes we have to make hard choices where money is concerned. When hard times hit such “pressing matters” of whom to support with our purchases go out the window. This matter is for those who have options. Those with the fortunate privilege of choice. I’m asking you to choose wisely. You do not realize the power you hold. Not just for yourself but for those without a voice as well. Let me explain.
I think we are all familiar with supply and demand. The supply of these goods can not go up without demand. If we, the privileged choosers, create a market for local goods we can help to bring the costs down. Particularly with regards to locally produced food. The farms can grow more if we can buy more, and more supply can lower costs. Lower costs mean more choices for more people with otherwise limited options. Don’t we all deserve to know where our food comes from, I mean really know! Can you imagine local produce in the salad bar at public schools? A year round indoor market bustling with activity, cooking classes and educational programs for kids! A community canning kitchen, an old fashioned meat locker! I can! I do!
Dream with me folks, but, also do what is very tangible and very real now. Support the change you want. Put your money where your mouth is.