New Westminster writer Sheila Keenan is committing to do all her shopping locally for the next year – and will blog about it to boot. In her first blog post explaining her motivation to take on the project, she writes:
I’ve always been the kind of person who wants to shop locally. My desire stems from vague notions that shopping locally is good for the community, the local economy and the environment, though I really don’t know that much about exactly how local economies work. I want to find out whether and how my actions as a consumer effect the local economy. You see, despite my desire, the reality is, I don’t really shop locally all that much.
Most of the shopping I do in New Westminster is usually at chain stores and it’s mostly for groceries or food. I go to Safeway, Walmart, Starbucks, Boston Pizza and White Spot. For most other items, including clothing, furniture, hardware, and shoes, I leave New Westminster and drive to another community to do my shopping.
The reason I leave town to shop is the same reason I think New Westminster is uniquely suited for this experiment. It’s in the middle of a large urban area, but it’s really just a small town (population 60,000) in many ways. But, unlike towns with similar populations NOT in the middle of a urban area, New Westminster seems to be missing certain kinds of stores and services that drives me, and has me driving, to other communities to shop. One reason I want to do this experiment is to see just what retailers and services are missing from New Westminster, as well as to find out what is here. (I’ve heard there are interesting stores in New West, even interesting clothing stores, but I’ve never set foot in one.)
If I’m typical of New Westminster residents, leaving town to buy most goods and services, that diverse and ambitious mix of retailers will never be attracted here. If the retailers aren’t here, residents will keep leaving town to shop. It’s a vicious, but predictable, cycle.
My husband and I make an effort to shop and eat locally, especially since launching our blog, but since having our second child, I’ve started doing a lot more shopping online. It’s just too stressful for me to bring two small children into local boutiques. I wish there were more options to shop online from local stores. It’s hard to find stores that will even ship to Canada. Still, I remain interested in keeping a healthy segment of my discretionary spending in the local economy, and I look forward to reading Sheila’s posts (and maybe getting some tips on new stores to visit!).
If you’ve got any favourite local shopping suggestions, please share them in the comments!