Inspired to think local first

Barry O'Neill's recent presentation about the 10 per cent shift was inspiring.

I know we’ve written about the 10 per cent shift before, but it’s hard not to be inspired and want to keep spreading the word after hearing Barry O’Neill speak last week.

The president of CUPE BC spoke about the 10 per cent shift during a community presentation organized by the Ladysmith 10% shift committee March 28. The shift is about more than buying local, he emphasized.

“I don’t believe in local buying — I believe in local first,” he said. “I don’t just go to your store because you live here. I go to your store because it’s good for my community.”

O’Neill spoke about how you can build friendships with store owners in your own community, and you get to know your neighbours better. It’s one of the benefits of shopping locally that has nothing to do with leakage analysis, economic multipliers, business incubation and import substitution — other concepts O’Neill spoke about that are important as well but can be harder to grasp and that lack the human aspect of the campaign.

“The shift program is really about connecting with your neighbours,” O’Neil emphasized.

But speaking of economic multipliers — and I can’t imagine I’ll say that in this space again any time soon — one of the interesting concepts O’Neill brought up was what happens when you spend $100 on books in different  scenarios. Spend $100 online with a company such as Amazon, and zero dollars end up in your community. Spend that $100 at a chain store such as Chapters in a city, and $13 stays in that city. But spend $100 at your local bookstore, and $45 stays in your community.

“The longer [the money] stays in the community, the more it generates,” said O’Neill.

O’Neill was impressed with all the work volunteers in Ladysmith have done to raise awareness of the 10 per cent shift, and they definitely deserve praise for making us think a little more locally.

— Lindsay Chung