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Buying local goods: Is it really worth it?

Most of us, at some point or another, have griped about the lack of variety in Ada, and it's a fair complaint, to a certain degree. Many of us come from areas that are considerably more populated than our favorite village, and a denser commercial district is to be expected. We're used to malls, larger grocery stores and more fast food chains from which to choose. But is it possible that our "need" to send our business to Lima and Findlay is limiting us even further?

I spoke with Ada Mayor David Retterer regarding why Ohio Northern students should make a stronger effort to buy locally. He wisely noted that the best way to attract commercial variety to Ada is to provide the consistency of economic support that would make growth possible. It's incredibly hard to move commercial diversity into a small area that doesn't consistently support it. We can't expect a wealth of resources at our fingertips if we aren't, in turn, ready to support them vigorously enough to ensure their continued success. 

Jerrod Amstutz, religion major and worker at Community Markets, feels incredibly strongly about the merits of buying local. He states, "By buying local, you're keeping money and character in Ada, as well as building a thriving local, living economy." Those who work in this community are waiting eagerly to support the needs and desires of ONU students. Regarding Community Markets, in particular, Jerrod noted, "We know and listen to our customers. If there is something you'd like to see at Community Markets, make a suggestion and management will see what they can do for you!" 

While some people might feel that the prices at Community Markets are higher than, perhaps, at Walmart, consider this: by the time you've spent the gas money to drive to Findlay or Lima to get to a larger chain store, have you really saved any money? Instead, pay not only for the convenience of a store just down the road, but also pump money into the local economy that turns around and helps us in return. 

And where is that money going? According to The Huffington Post, local business generates 70 percent more local economic activity per square foot than large retail. Additionally, spending $100 at an independent business typically yields around $68 in local economic activity, whereas spending $100 at a big retailer typically yields around $48 in local activity. 

Over time, that could be the difference between stores on Main Street staying open and strong or closing down and disappearing. The money that goes to local economic activity is the money that can make Ada the more interesting, diverse place that most of us wish it could be.

And what happens if Ada becomes a place with more commercial diversity? We can attract even more students to our already thriving campus. With more students, what can we do? We can pump even more money into the local economy to ensure a viable commercial district that consistently provides us with everything we need to make our college experience remarkable. 

It's a cycle that depends upon our active involvement. So next time you're in need of something, do what you can to first see if it's available to you locally. If it is, even if it means spending a few extra bucks, make the investment in Ada and Ohio Northern's future. As Jerrod reminds us, "It's buy local, or bye bye local."

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