The economy.

Recently it has been a Bad Thing (to put it mildly).

I don’t know anyone who hasn’t been affected in some way. Most people I know are concerned about where we are going and what the future brings. Tightening belts, cutting down…we’ve all been doing it.

One of the most debated topics among my friends and family is whether or not we have an obligation (moral, ethical, or otherwise) to support local small businesses.

The thinking goes- small businesses are great. Generally they tend to know you, remember you, have better service, higher quality goods, etc. All good things, though their prices may be higher. They are also more vulnerable to bad markets and shouldn’t we spend more money with them so they don’t go out of business?

The opposite side is that- hey, everyone is cutting back. We might not be able to afford the luxury of shopping at an increased price, no matter how much you might love the store. Is it our responsibility to keep stores afloat, even at the expense of ourselves/our budget?

Really, it’s a complex issue. I don’t think anyone should have to eat Ramen for a month or choose between bills in order to support local shops. If it’s not in your budget, it’s not.It’s important to support local shops- they bring a lot to cities and towns, and have things (community, local products, so on) that can’t be duplicated at big-box shops.  However, both places have pros and cons. Pointing fingers isn’t helpful or good for either side of the issue. I feel like supporting local stores is great- if you have the inclination and the money to do so. If you don’t, there’s no reason to apologize or explain your choice. There’s room enough for all opinions!

Readers- weigh in. What do you think? Support? Or is it not our problem? Let me know!