Do you “Buy American”? If so, why, and if not, why not?
For my part, during most of my consumer life I’ve tended to focus on what’s cheapest, and as I’ve gotten older I skew towards the best value (which doesn’t always equal the lowest price). This certainly means that a lot of my money has gone to purchase goods that were made outside of the USA, and which were sold by the “big box” stores, or online. Volume buying means volume pricing equals lower prices for me, and I’m in favor of keeping as much money in my pocket as possible.
That said, I’ve also started to think about buying local. I have a visceral, negative reaction to the term “buy American” because to me it sounds jingoistic. But buying local feels more personal, less political. It’s about reducing your own personal footprint – when you buy goods made close to where you live you reduce the costs to bring it to you, which can be considerable. It’s also about supporting the businesses of your neighbor, which feels like the right thing to do. This time of year, with plentiful fruits and vegetables in season, this is easier to do with food. For consumer goods I still prefer to spend as little as possible, but I am willing to spend a little more to buy from a locally owned store versus a national chain. Sometimes.
I will admit that I like walking into a store and being free to browse without someone asking me immediately whether I need help. Smaller stores tend to have someone ready, willing and able to help you right away. This can be good if you’re looking for something specific, or have a lot of questions. But when you just kind of want to look around, see what’s there, maybe compare prices, read labels and mull over your decision, having a sales person hovering makes me want to flee without spending a dime. Ideally of course they would be able to read my mind when I walk in and stay in the shadows until I’ve narrowed my choice and need to ask a question before making my final decision. Alas, they’ve yet to implant those mind reading chips in store owners and their employees.
Suffice to say, I’m more aware. Awareness is the first step in action. I won’t promise to buy local all the time, but I will include it in my considerations.
Yeah, the jingoistic feeling of it, as you said, turned me off on the slogan. If I’m presented with a clear choice of American versus someplace that I readily-defined as evil, I’ll buy the American product even at a greater cost. Otherwise, though, no.
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It’s very difficult to buy American. Even things made in America are often made with foreign-made parts. I do like to buy locally when possible. Particularly if on vacation I’ll try to buy a souvenir made by a local artisan (pottery and such). Trying to buy local produce is tricky because a lot of the time the people just buy it from the grocery store and sell it from the back of their truck.