Smackdown: Sam Weller’s vs. Barnes and Noble

By By Clayton Norlen

By Clayton Norlen

Before you automatically opt for Wal-Mart’s unbeatable low prices, consider the benefits of purchasing local goods and services first. It will be a better decision in the long run.

A grassroots movement called Local First Utah is making a difference throughout the state by supporting local businesses. Local First Utah promotes a stronger local economy through encouraging consumers, businesses and government to look to local businesses first for their needs.

For a business to be considered “local” by the group, it must fulfill two criteria. At least 51 percent of the company’s owners must be located in Utah, and the business owners must be able to make independent decisions on purchasing, practices and distribution.

That doesn’t seem too hard, now does it? I mean, all someone’s doing is going to a local coffee shop instead of Starbucks.

The great thing is that there are benefits to doing something so simple. For example, if someone buys locally as opposed to nationally, he or she can help create a stronger economy for Utah.

With a stronger Utah economy, jobs will be more abundant-not to mention that a strong economy can also increase the hourly wages or salaries of employees statewide.

In a 2002 study titled “Livable City,” researchers found that for every $100 spent at local bookstores in Austin, Texas, $39 was returned to the local economy. At a national bookstore, only $13 was returned. It is obvious where your dollar is doing more for you.

Local businesses also create a stronger community throughout the Salt Lake Valley and across the state by reflecting the wants, needs and interests of their consumers-us. Basically, local stores are Utah.

Now, I know how U students feel about community-they don’t want anything to do with it on campus.

So this is a perfect solution: We can have community where it belongs-everywhere else. That should make all of you who are against the rec center happy.

Other benefits of purchasing local goods include a variety of goods. Local goods aren’t streamlined for the masses like national goods; they are made for Utahns.

Also, buying local creates a personal shopping experience. Patronizing a local business brings out the small town in even the biggest of cities. When buying local, you have the opportunity to be acknowledged by the owner. You become an individual instead of a demographic. I am no longer just a white male.

Local First Utah has even created a directory on its Web site, www.localfirst.org, for the roughly 487 businesses that have signed on with it. Shopping has never been easier.

For example: Say I’m looking for a bookstore. I go to the directory and click on the category that hosts bookstores. Then I’m provided with a list of local bookstores and their addresses.

Searches can also be conducted by location or name. Now I don’t need to put up with the tween scene at the malls to find a good read.

The advantages to shopping locally may not appear overnight or even next week, but they will come eventually.

It’s time to start thinking long term. By purchasing local, we can make Utah a self-sufficient state. So, next time you go shopping, look for the Local First Utah sticker and make Utah a better place.