Over the past decade there has been a major shift from in-store, tangible, touch the things before you buy the things shopping, to impersonal, hope it fits, hope it’s not garbage, online shopping. It’s understandable since we pride ourselves on being so darn busy all the time we don’t even have time to wash our hands (is sanitizing really replacing cleaning the pee pee off of our hands? No bro. I think NOT!)
Sometimes it is undeniably easier to hop online and place an order in minutes, and occasionally, we aren’t able to find what we’re looking for anywhere around our physical person. If you live in a rural area where Wal-Mart (if you’re lucky) is the only shopping centre available and it’s just not cutting it for the Swedish dishcloths and soy candles you’re after, you feel forced to jump on the online giant and shop until your heart’s content. Then there are the inconveniences of shipping cost, and drawn out delays between when you make your purchase and when you receive it. I have even waited the allotted time for my package to arrive, only to discover that it has been stolen, rerouted or lost. This has put me in some frustrating predicaments, as at times, those items had been gifts that I was no longer able to give and had to get something much less thoughtful and much less unique than what I had already waited a month to receive.
On top of all that superficial business of first world annoyances, there are bigger fish frying… Kind of literally: Our environment and community.
Online shopping on large company sites such as Amazon, however convenient, no matter how we try and justify it, serves as a detriment to the local economy. It may not seem like it will have any effect on us personally, but imagine your favourite local shop closing its doors forever - Sad, right? That is the reality many storeowners are currently facing. It is becoming harder and harder to compete with the convenience of the online market and their prices.
Then there are issues of packaging, transportation, the working conditions of the employees of the online retailers… the list goes on.
So, if you can get anything you could ever imagine wanting without leaving the comfort of your own home and without wasting time travelling to a store with actual walls, why should you? You’re comfy. You’re tired. You don’t have the time.
Because!!! The experience of shopping in a traditional retail store is irreplaceable. Interacting with other humans outside of the workplace is enjoyable and a healthy form of socialization. The friendly service and familiarity of the store clerks has always been important to me. I enjoy popping in to my local gift shop to see what new items they have in store, but also to chat with the owner (as it is usually the owner that is working in the local shop).
In addition to the uplifting social experience, also keep in mind that the products carried at the local store are curated by the shop owner, who has their customer’s interests top of mind instead of the national agenda. They also quite regularly carry locally made, quality products. These products have a much smaller carbon footprint and you’re supporting your community through multiple streams.
Bottom line: If you are able to get what you need from a locally owned shop near you, why wouldn’t you? And while you’re out, stop by your local farmer’s market or local coffee shop on the way.
Check out this short 10 minute TedTalk by Jonas Singer to understand a little bit more about ‘intentional spending’: or about shopping at local farmers markets (same goes for local shops and cafes) go here!