Post 5 – What is and why shop local?

Since the start of the Cambridge Shop Local Challenge,which spontaneously grew out of a brief discussion, it has been fascinating reading the different ideas, views and issues the challenge to shop local for one week has generated . To view these please see the Facebook page Cambridge Shop Local or follow #CamShopLocal on Twitter.

What is shopping local?

To me it is shopping and supporting local independent shops and businesses as opposed to using supermarkets and large chains.

In the last week there has been various discussions on how people define such a challenge and whether they can contemplate being able to succeed. The idea is to have fun, explore the shops near you, discover what they sell and the quality of their goods or services. Those of us taking part want to see as many people as possible have a go, think differently about how they can shop and share their experiences.

Why shop local?

The driving force behind my desire to shop local has been to support local businesses by spending my money with them. Having until recently run my own independent business in Cambridge for two years I really valued the support of the local community and how great it was to use local producers as my suppliers. I really valued the quality of the ingredients I sourced, that they were from the local area and the buckets of enthusiasm, support and creativity their producers had.

The article that sparked the discussion about shopping locally was written by Harry Eyres in the Financial Times who talked about how the less he used supermarkets the better he felt. I must admit I do love having a chat with the butcher who tells me about the different cuts of meat and recommends ways to prepare them; or to the baker who baked my bread fresh that morning.

The other side of the debate has tackled the implications of a limited budget, opening times, availability of consumer goods and higher prices that can make shopping local an unobtainable ideal.  I want to use next week to measure the extent of these and to test if they have an impact on changing my shopping habits.

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