Buy Local/Eat Local and the Big-Box Ban of 2009

Photo by grokdotcom.comLast Tuesday marks four months since we last made a purchase from Wal-Mart.  We can’t yet say the same about Target or Costco or some other big-box chain stores.  But it’s a start.

About a month ago, we watched “Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price” (good flick, check it out).  Many people know the reasons we should avoid shopping at big-box chains; artificially low-prices, low wages and benefits for workers, killing local businesses, but I was surprised to learn about other concerns such as global economies, surrounding property values, and environmental impacts. 

Wal-Mart isn’t the only culprit when it comes to these issues, but they are among (if not THE) worst.

To us, it seemed like the next logical step in our lifestyle changes… buy local means buy local, right?  So we should avoid buying products from national big-box chain stores that don’t support local business owners, and often don’t stock any products even made in the USA. 

But it gets tricky.  I mean where do you find alternatives?  And with the box store’s buying power, they really DO have lower prices, so will I have to pay more?  Well, there are alternatives, and yes, you might likely pay a bit more.  But you can be comforted knowing your extra few pennies or dollars went to support a local business or family, not line the overly large pockets of the Walton family. 

Here is the list of store Rick and I are avoiding:
-Wal-Mart & Sam’s Club
-Home Depot & Lowes
-Sports Authority & Dick’s
-JoAnn’s, Michael’s & Hobby Lobby

So where can you shop instead?  Well, we recently got canning supplies, pieces to repair the sprinkler system, a yellow jacket trap and a shower organizer at A&A Tradin’ Post, a local hardware store.  Instead of getting bike accessories/locks/inner tubes/helmets at Sports Authority, we shop at Treads, Arapahoe Cyclery or Campus Cycles.  I get fabric from Denver Fabrics and scrap booking supplies from locals as well (though I have to find a new store since Scrapbook Destination closed down 😦 ). 

I wanted to add Costco to the “do not shop” list as well, but we are still taking advantage of our membership there at the moment.  Though I do hope that we can eventually eliminate that as well, we just need a local store that stocks organic cane sugar in large quantities for canning season.  We generally avoid King Soopers and Safeway in favor of the slightly more local Sunflower Market to buy our milk and grains (and we usually buy Colorado products over organics), and try to grow/CSA/farmer’s market all the rest. 

What about restaurants?  There are so many great local places to eat instead of typical chain restaurants.  And the food is almost always, fresher, tastier and prepared to order.  Instead of ordering from Pizza Hut or Papa John’s, try that little pizzeria (we recently ordered from Frank the Pizza King here in Englewood, and often miss Sal’s up in Thornton).  Instead of Panda Express, spend a few extra bucks at Heaven Dragon (our fave!).  Don’t get steak at Lone Star or Outback when you can try Bastien’s Steakhouse or The Capital Grill.  Why eat at Old Chicago, Chiles or Applebees when you can get better eats at Pearl Street Grill, Wash Park Grill or The Hornet.  Olive Garden and Macaroni Grill can’t hold a candle to Undici down the street.  And Mile High Coffee (or Stella’s or Kaladi Bros.) brews a tastier and less expensive cup-o-joe than Starbuck’s ever could.  And seriously, I-HOP can NOT compare to Toast or even The Breakfast Queen.

These are, of course, baby steps in supporting the local movement.  And it does take some extra effort.  Sometimes we do without for a while until I can locate a local source for what it is we’re looking for (I want some storage tubs, but I don’t want to get them from Wal-Mart or Target, for example).  And sometimes we have to come up with creative alternatives (like using repurposed cardboard boxes instead of those tubs).  And, yes, sometimes it costs a bit more.  But I don’t mind paying more than rock-bottom prices, if it means supporting my local economy, neighbors and community.  Do you?

Categories: Independence Days | 8 Comments

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8 thoughts on “Buy Local/Eat Local and the Big-Box Ban of 2009

  1. Hey! Last year we called the local big dairy that makes their own butter to see if we could buy directly from them, and they said they didn’t sell less than a palette of butter at a time. (!) But, they informed us their butter is repackaged and sold as Cotco’s Kirkland brand organic butter, so that’s where we buy our local butter! They also sell Blue Parrott (in Louisville, CO) spaghetti sauce, and Boulder sausage. Mmm. More local options.

  2. My husband and I have been going through the same thought process on buying local. We are doing great on our food, but what about the other things? We even had this conversation driving home last night. What a great post!

  3. Anisa

    Woah! Thanks Annie! I had no idea! That makes me feel a bit better about Costco purchases… at least for the butter! 😉
    Also – we love the Blue Parrot! I forgot about that place, but Rick’s family grew up eating there.

    And thanks to you both for the feedback on this post… I almost didn’t put it up… 🙂

  4. i am SO glad that you finally watched “Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price” – everyone should do this. cheers to buy local, support local, my never-ending mantra!!! and this is why i want to learn how to sew my own clothes. all in due time, all in due time. just returned from the western slope with TONS of apples, i’m ready to start making apple goodies now. miss you!

  5. why did you not almost put this up?

  6. and did you hear that ART-O-RAMA closed their doors, on broadway there, the art store. i’m devastated!

  7. Anisa

    mmmm… apples! I am going to get a box next week at the Wednesday farmers market at Aspen Grove. YuM!!

  8. and rich just made ‘apple crisp’ with the apples tonight. SEW hopefully if you come over tomorrow night, you can taste it – YUMMY.

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