Friday, June 20, 2008

The dilemma of buying local

We try hard to buy as much as we can from local sources, including local businesses. We have a fabulous, family-owned hardware store that's been in our neighborhood for decades and carries a little bit of everything. There are a few things they don’t have and every now and then we have a desperate need for something when they’re not open. Otherwise, we try to get what we can there.

Here’s my dilemma right now. Big box stores can often carry products at lower prices because they buy so much and have homogeneity among their stores. A lot of the time, items at the hardware store are much more convenient and are fairly similar in price. We want to drylok our basement walls, to keep moisture out and keep all the minerals from being pulled out of the bricks. We’re going to need 7 to 10 gallons to do the whole basement. Lowe’s sells it for $22 a gallon. At the hardware store, it’s $26. That’s a difference of $30-$40! If I hadn’t seen it at Lowe’s before looking at the hardware store, I would have bought it there and never known the difference. On the other hand, if I hadn’t thought to check the hardware store, I would have gotten it at Lowe’s and not felt guilty. But since I do have all the information, I don’t know what to do. I’m torn between my frugal self and my socially responsible, wanting to support local businesses self. I don’t know which will win out in this case.

Any thoughts on how to decide when to buy locally versus when to take advantage of the cheaper option?


RMyers said...

Hello! I found your post on Biblicalwomanhood. I too, am doing the best I can to buy local. We planted a HUGE garden this year, and it is certainly going to be a challenge when it starts getting to harvesting with working full-time as well. . . but I look forward to the challenge of stocking up my freezer with my own food as well as local meats! Blessings,

Julie said...

Wow, that's a tough one...

Where does the stuff originally come from? If it's not from MI to begin with, I'd say go with Lowes.

Other than that, I'd chose the local place. You can always think of it as tithe/offering money.

PEZmama said...

Hi Sarah,
I just came over here from a link in one of your comments at Money Saving Mom. I read this post, and I am muddling through the same things myself these days.

What my mind keeps coming back to is not frugality, but stewardship. I use that word cautiously, because I think its meaning has been distorted, but, for me, it really is about stewardship. It's not just how much money I can save. It's also about willingly spending it for the things that are in line with God's purposes. It's not MY money, after all. It's His. So as his steward, if I know that something is in line with His purposes, then I look at it as being disobedient if I don't spend on that simply because it is more expensive.

I hope I don't sound like I know the answer to the Lowe's/local question. You know better than anyone what the situation is in your home and how all of that plays into His purposes. It's not simple, but I know God can direct you to the best choice.

Unrelated: I like your blog. I'll have to stop in again soon!

ejs said...

A man walked into a bar and saw a beautiful woman at the counter. He walked right up to her and said, "Hello. I was curious, could I ask you a question?" The woman sipped her drink and nodded her approval.

"I was curious, if I paid you one million dollars would you sleep with me?" She took another sip of her drink, mulled it over and finally answered, "Yes, I certainly would."

"How bout $10,000? Would you go to a motel with me right now and have sex with me for $10,000?" This time the woman took a much bigger drink of her beverage, gave the man a once over, up and down, took a little more time answering but finally responded, "Yes, for $10,000 cash I would go to a hotel with you right now and have sex with you."

"How about for $50?"

She was outraged. She stood up, slammed down her drink and screamed, "$50? What kind of a woman do you think I am?"

"We've already determined that, Miss, now we're just negotiating your price."

megs92 said...

Hi Sarah,

This is a tough one. What about splitting the purchase? Buying half at Lowe's and half at the local store? Also, how far is each from your house? Are you adding to your carbon footprint significantly by driving to the Lowe's?

In other news - I've really enjoyed keeping up with your blog. I sent you a long e-mail a few months ago, so won't delve into all what I've been up to, but if you'd like, you can also check out our blog (on our current year in Kenya) at:

Good luck with the moral quandry!

Megan (Hershey)