When we moved to this area in 2008 we were happy to see the modest farmers’ market in Stevensville. Though we grow our own expansive gardens, it was reassuring to know we could buy local produce should one, or more, crops fail.
As a small business owner, I favor open and competitive markets. But I also like to educate folks to the fact that small business is the engine of our economy, and local shopping keeps local economies healthy and vibrant. When money is spent within a local economy, those monies tend to stay in the local economy. It gets spread around from consumer to merchant to employee and back again. Estimates are that for every $100 spent locally, $68 actually stays in that local economy.
Around 2010 the Hutterites showed up in Stevensville with produce, meat, and baked goods. And here at the end of the 2012 gardening season the local farmers’ market is all but extinct.
One has to wonder if shopping with the Hutterites brings much economic benefit to the local community. They don’t live, work, or produce in Ravalli County. They come to town with the goods (some of which they have shipped in from out of state), collect monies from locals, buy fuel and some snacks, and then head back to their home over five hours away. Imagine if they gross $10K in a weekend and spend $500 locally; $9500 LEAVES the Ravalli County economy. Now imagine $10K spent locally with $6800 RETAINED in the local economy. $300 v. $6800. Hmm…
In these harsh economic times we need neighbors, each other, for support and encouragement. What better way to help each other than to buy locally?