The Importance of Shopping Local

I recently sat down at the counter of the Brass Buckle in Greenfield to grab some breakfast and catch up on some emails. I had busily been working away when I was distracted by a conversation happening only a few feet away.

In the bustling atmosphere, I heard owner Anika Balaconis greet a customer, “Good morning, Steve! How’re you doing? You want that coffee with milk to go this morning?” Anika paused and grinned, “And that cranberry scone you like?” After a brief conversation with Anika, Steve took the coffee and scone to go. I thought to myself, what an incredible way for a person to start their day.

A few weeks ago, I was traveling through West County and stopped at a local hardware store. As I stood waiting to introduce myself to the owner, I witnessed a conversation between the owner and a customer about concrete, and the benefits of one type over another. “Well, if this one doesn’t work, you know where to find me,” the business owner said.

Franklin County is a place where people value local. We want to know the hands that made the pottery, the person whose viewfinder captured one of our scenic vistas and the baker who made the cranberry scone. We want to know where our food comes from and the people who produce it. I enjoy going to Clarkdale Fruit Farm in Deerfield not only because of their apples, but because they make me feel like family.

I shop local because it feels like home.

Today is Small Business Saturday. Founded in 2010, this annual event occurs the Saturday after Black Friday and encourages shoppers to support small businesses in their communities. This initiative highlights the critically important role that small businesses play in the local economy. The Massachusetts Office of Housing and Economic Development reports that 126,300 (86 percent) of businesses located in Massachusetts employ 19 employees or fewer, and approximately 458,000 are sole proprietors. The economy of Franklin County is stronger and more vibrant because of our small businesses.
But shopping locally can’t be a one-day-of-the-year event if we truly care about our local small businesses. If we value them, and the contributions they make to the 26 communities across Franklin County, we must make supporting them part of our routine or risk losing them.

The Franklin County Chamber of Commerce is encouraging locals to buy local not only today, but every day. Our neighbors, the ones who know the way we take our coffee and our favorite scone, the ones who will be there if we have a question about concrete, are depending on it.

“Our Chamber membership is one of the important ways that we place value on our relationships with other business owners and with our community. “ Bruce Lessels, Zoar Outdoor
“Chamber membership helps keep my staff in contact with the local business community through their seminars and events.” – Michael Tucker, Greenfield Cooperative Bank
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