Jaquith omitted most shop-local benefits

Full disclosure: I own a local business. So you can imagine my disappointment when the Hook chose to run an essay that actively discourages shopping locally, [Janis Jaquith’s January 19 "Online specs: How I reframed the discussion"].

Apparently, Ms. Jaquith feels that the point of shopping locally is to “feel patriotic.”

In point of fact, there are many more tangible benefits. Using Ms. Jaquith’s “frame” of reference, I will highlight some of the benefits local residents (ourselves included) enjoy when my family buys our “specs” from our favorite local optician.

First, our local optician collects and pays state and local taxes which support our schools, road maintenance, libraries, and myriad other services we all take for granted. He donates to scores of local non-profits with in-kind gifts and cash.  He sponsors local teams for children, youth, and adults. He pays salaries to a dozen local folks who spend their money locally on housing, goods, and services. He buys supplies from local stores and insurance from local brokers. He hires local lawyers and accountants. He buys vehicles from local car dealers and contracts local carpenters and painters to maintain his business. And he advertises on local television and radio and in local magazines and newspapers. He even advertises in the Hook. (Or, at least, he used to.)

When I consider all the ways my local optician supports my community I don’t feel like a “chump” for supporting him. In fact, I feel pretty smart.

Kai Rady
Albemarle

The author is the owner of Shenanigans (proudly local since 1974) in the Barracks Road North Wing.

15 comments

Ouch. And so true -- every word stated in Kai's letter. Ironically, in a longer draft of the column, I'd mentioned that, at Christmas time, I'd used my smart phone while shopping at Shenanigan's to check out Amazon reviews of the toys. Even though I could have saved up to $40 by placing the order from Amazon, I chose to patronize Shenanigans for all the reasons stated in Kai's letter. For me, it's about the jaw-dropping price difference when it comes to buying eyeglasses. Given a choice between paying $450 or a mere $125 for glasses, I'll take the latter.

There are probably freelance writers out in the hinterlands that would also submit chirpy little articles a lot cheaper too.

Simply put, I would not pay any more for an exact item that I could buy somewhere else for less. I'd go to a better doctor at Duke University versus staying in Charlottesville; the doctors are not "identical" services. If I could find a unique toy in a toy store, I'd pay more. But I would never buy a Matchbox car for $2 when I could buy it at WalMart for $1.
While it is possible for one consumer to decide to spend $40 more in a local store, today's economy dictates that there are far more people who would need to save that $40. Janis's comment above is strictly about numbers: she decided she can live with $40 more for toys; however, $325 more for eyeglasses is something she will not pay. That is an interesting dichotomy, as eyeglasses relate to health and one wonders what kind of quality would be achieved with the lower price glasses.
R.I.P.: Sterling Hayden

I believe in shopping locally if I am able to verify that I am buying products Made in USA. Eye glasses are a good example. I have found that the 'online' versions of products are made to inferior quality. Manufactures use less quality control and allow a cheaper version, in all aspects from material to production, to be sold at a discount by companies like Walmart. As with automobiles, you can pay less for a basic model or more for the higher quality model. The price one pays is all about the warranty/guarantee given for the product. A better warrantee does mean a higher price as you are paying for it up front. If you were to make all items as is with no warrantee then you would see a significantly lower price.

The other day I paid $18 for an item "locally" that I could have gotten on Amazon.com for $8. The owner of the shop was not only unappreciative of my business, he actually acted as if my presence in his store was putting him out. I'm sure if I tried to return the item and buy it online, he would tell me, "sorry, all sales are final." At least on Amazon.com I know I can return an item if I find a better price, and I don't get the snotty attitude I get so often in this town.

There is something else that needs to be factored in. If there is a 200 dollar savings on the eyeglasses and it is spent in local resturants that buy local then the net is a "local" purchase because if she is buying the syeglasses from china and the optician is buying the eyeglasses from china then 125 bucks is going to china either way. It is simply about whether the 200 bucks goes to the opticians choice of baseball team or IN MA BELLY.....

I view buying online like flying out of Charlottesville's airport. There exist a certain price where the ease of being here is out weighed by cost- it varies depending on cost, length of travel and distance to the other airport. I have had fights out of Dulles that take less travel time even when you include the car ride up.

What if you two alternatives are amazon and Best Buy? Is it really about local then- I know Crutchfield is local and all things equal i will buy from them but if it will cost me 30% less to buy online I have to think about it on a major purchase. On the other hand I will pay more for local food without think about for many other reasons- cost not the most important.

I want local store to do well but they have to be competitive for the most part

Meh. I don't see the problem with my money going to Taiwanese charities, or German schools, or Thai accountants, or Mexican lawyers (well, any more than going to any lawyer), or Singaporean carpenters, or even feeding a family in China.

this is a dead issue.Remember how quickly (and rightly so) folks forgot about mom-and-pop bookstores,when offered B&N?That's just the way it is.Opticians are racketeers.Sayonara,chumps.

Cows,
I think you meant to say 'chirpy little essays' not 'chirpy little articles'.

Oh my, yes, no wait...I didn't, but thanks! But you meant to use scare quotes not single term reference unless you're using British punctuation. There's bound to be a good unemployed editor in the Dakotas that will do this cheap and put you and Janice both on the skids.

Maybe you ought to let Ms. Jacquith know who he is. Personally, I buy what is cheapest for me usually. When you are in you eighties you know that every penny counts as your cost of living continues to go up.

I prefer single...it's a personal thing and I certainly didn't want to 'scare' anyone.

Well, I, for one, was frightened. It's all good though.

Apparently, Ms. Jaquith feels that the point of shopping locally is to “feel patriotic.”
I am glad she did not bother to respond.