Buy Local Goods to Become More Self Reliant

Can Buying Goods Locally
Make You More Self-Reliant?

basket of vegetables In an age of big-box stores and supercenters, shopping locally is becoming a popular countertrend. And, if you’re like us, you think twice before jumping on board big trends, especially ones which smack of herd-centered thinking. Whenever we see a widely noted trend forming, we wonder who’s getting fleeced.

Jumping on trends that few people are paying attention to can be quite lucrative and personally beneficial. First, you certainly can get fleeced in the whole “shop local” trend. As a savvy prepper, however, you can also garner several big benefits from becoming a local shopper. The key is how you go about it.

Local Manufacturers Provide Secret Key
to Greater Self Reliance

During any crisis one of the first things to suffer is the supply lines. Just take a look at recent history…

  • During the 2011 London riots, international shipping company DHL found it impossible to make deliveries to certain areas. Looters stripped store shelves of everything from groceries to clothes to electronics. New supply deliveries were slowed by widespread violence.

  • After Hurricane Katrina, pharmacies and department stores shelves quickly emptied. It was weeks – a month in some areas – before grocery stores reopened.

  • After Hurricane Sandy, it was nearly two weeks before power was fully restored to residents of hard-hit areas like Staten Island.

Those are all examples of significant supply chain disruptions, and according to the Business Continuity Institute, they becoming more common. An increasing level of complexity and dependence on international companies means more companies experienced disruptions during the past year.

What this means for you is there’s a higher chance that you’ll go to your favorite store (online or brick-and-mortar) and discover that they can’t get you the product you need… at least not for a while. And during a big crisis… well, don’t expect to find a lot of food available at your local grocery store. But if you’re an experienced local shopper, these supply chain disruptions won’t necessarily slow you down.

Grow Your Local Shopping List

The first thing to do to become a savvy, local shopper is to get familiar with local brands. When it comes to food, an easy way to do this is to check labels – they’ll tell you where the product is packaged and distributed from. You can also get in touch with your local chamber of commerce to learn more about local businesses. And don’t underestimate the power of the Internet when it comes to researching local brands. What you’re looking for is sources of the types of products you use regularly that are made in your neck of the woods, produced near enough to you that you can go directly to the source should it be tough to get what you need through your usual channels. You won’t be able to find everything from a local manufacturer or producer, but you’ll probably find more than you expected to. Focus on these three areas to put yourself in the best position during a crisis:

Food Producers: First, find local farms and orchards. Your best bets are ones that are open to the public during the summer or who attend farmer’s markets with regularity. Those folks will already have a direct-to-consumer sales channel in place and are unlikely to mind you dropping by the farm to buy some goods, especially if you’ve made a point to get to know the owners by being a regular farm stand customer. Don’t stop with farms, though. Check into bakeries and specialty product makers. If you can, do a tour of their facility and find out about their own supply chain – do the bread makers use locally grown grain, for example? If you have kids or grandkids, this makes a great field trip, as well. What you’re doing is getting a lay of the land, so that you can continue to shop for food even if grocery stores are overrun and emptied out. You can just go to the source.

Barter Supplies: Another great local shopping strategy for preppers is getting to know the companies in your area that produce things that will be good for barter. Local distilleries, breweries, and vineyards are a great place to start. Do you have a local vinegar-maker? What about a candy-maker? Or a paper factory? Again, look them up, and if you can find the time and they offer the option, take a tour.

Special Equipment: What do you have on had that you’ll rely on during a crisis? A generator? Power tools? A pair of eyeglasses? A handgun? The next thing to do is explore the people in your area who offer specialty products and who also do repairs. Getting to know them means that if something you need breaks down during a crisis, you’ll already have a line on how to get it repaired.

Protect Your Wallet

vegetablesWhen it comes to shopping locally, you’ll hear lots of people tell you that making the decision to buy locally will be good for your health (fresher food), good for the environment (lower shipping requirements), and better for the local economy (more money stays closer to home).

This may all be true, but buying locally can put a big dent in your wallet – a lot of local products are more expensive. So shop smart. Don’t buy big consumer items like TVs and stereos from a local mom-and-pop store unless you find a great deal or service you can’t pass up. Those products aren’t manufactured locally anyway and the margins are slim, so the economic argument isn’t a strong one. Plus, those aren’t the kinds of things you’ll be depending on during a crisis. Do look for local producers of high quality survival products that will last a long time. Continue to shop around. You may find some stores offer local products at a better price than others, but whenever possible, get a feel for the actual manufacturer – where he’s located, whether or not he welcomes visitors and direct sales, and if he offers repair services.

Our best advice: When you find a good product produced by a local manufacturer, jump on it. It’s usually worth the local premium because of the quality and because you’ll have the opportunity to build a connection with the provider – during a crisis that connection can be worth more than gold.