In the United States there is notable talk about how people should be buying American, with some trying to have this enshrined in official policy. Economix this week pondered whether this economic patriotism was uniquely American (I doubt it).
Meanwhile, Richard Florida comments on a “home base” effect that certain brands have. Starbucks peforms best in Seattle, for example.
If the economic downturn has people thinking more about where they spend their money, this might be great for cities. Or, more specifically, great for neighbourhoods and community building in cities.
What makes a place special, is that it can offer something unique. The world has become rather homogenized — McDonalds, Coke, Starbucks can be found everywhere. But a local coffee rostery, micro brewery, independent grocer, funky clothing store or a tasty bakery are examples of businesses that help to create an authentic place, rather than a generic retail space.
If the economic downturn pushes more people to spend their money in ways that benefit their local communities, this could help the livability of cities — and help them attract visitors and permanent residents alike.
Unfortunately, I think that application of the “support local” principle will be unevenly practiced. The lure of Wal-Mart and the big boxes will tempt many, especially in more frugal times. This will leave some neighbourhoods full of interesting, independent businesses and others reliant on global boxes.
Are you or people in your community shopping local? or has the lure of the mega-discounter prooved too tempting?