It’s patriotic to go shopping, right? I ended up with a PayPal balance and decided to spend it, for reasons that probably had nothing to do with patriotism, but I used that as an excuse and therefore thought about this whole idea of spending to support the economy and stave off a global depression which is scheduled to follow the current global pandemic.
I completely enjoyed the shopping. I bought whole grains (and they sent free yeast!) from the local grist mill, which counts as supporting local businesses. I ordered an out of print knitting book (and a bunch of other stuff to reach the free shipping threshold) from Fancy Tiger, which I heard about from a local knitting blogger. They are not local to me, but they’re pretty close to my son, and they are a small independent business. I also ordered from small independent businesses in France, England, and Iceland. They’re clearly not local. Finally, I placed an order with a large chain.
If I had had a broad enough choice, I think I would have tried to choose small, independent local businesses. However, we do not have any small local craft supply businesses, nor any small local bookstores, nor as far as I know any small local purveyors of Yorkshire tea. I think that covers most of my discretionary spending.
But I was wondering whether my spending counts as supporting the economy or not.
#2 son is an economist, so I asked him whether it would be better to support small independent businesses no matter where they are, or to support local businesses no matter what size.
He said that there would be more risk for small businesses but that supporting local businesses would have a faster effect on the local economy, regardless of their size.
I get that. Apart from the butterfly effect, my support of a shop in Iceland won’t save a neighbor’s job.
“But I think that your question is actually talking about macroeconomic growth as a whole,” he continued. “If so, then I think that supporting resilient businesses that are adapting and growing is more important than small/local/big/etc. Those companies are the ones that will be hiring people.”
This seemed very smart.
Also, I think it makes sense to support businesses which I care about — I mean, the ones I would miss if they went out of business. That is not altruistic, but let’s face it, I would have to find new suppliers if my favorite yarn shops went out of business.
I don’t actually care if most local restaurants go out of business. Most are fast food places or places that serve unhealthy food. They don’t offer wonderful jobs, even if the managers are nice. If the entire fast food industry collapsed — which it won’t — it would be a disruption, but would probably be better for everyone in the long run.
I should therefore support local restaurants that I would miss if they closed. Craft supply shops that are small, independent, and resilient. And purveyors of Yorkshire Tea, which has demonstrated an ethical response to the pandemic, wherever they may be.
I am now through with my patriotic shopping, though I still expect to buy groceries from time to time. I was so happy to see my daughter and my granddaughters again today.
We played dollhouse, cars, and catch and strolled through the garden. I also went to the bank and enjoyed the fresh air. Baking, now, and lunch, and then I shall settle in for knitting.