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What does it mean to “Buy Local”?

Around the holidays, I tend to be online a little less, taking a break from my usual post schedule. Whether my holidays are spent at home or away, I like to spend some of my time offline recharging my own batteries–playing with the kids, making things, spending time outdoors, reading and enjoying lots of delicious food with friends and family.


Being away from home (or just away from my computer) often gives me a chance to see my life from a new perspective and the opportunity to reflect on what’s important to me and my family.

When I think of home and my everyday routine with my family, I think about the community where we live. Although inundated with sale flyers from big box stores this time of year and the urgent call to shop til you drop this weekend, I am happy to see a growing number of “Buy Local” campaigns. But what does this really mean? In an effort to reduce our carbon footprint and create a more sustainable community, do we buy from the local toy store and not at Target? Shop from local farmers when possible? Makes sense, but the choices do not always seem so obvious. When I think about my community, I also think about all the people and places my family and I connect with everyday beyond our friends and family.

What would we miss if one of them was gone? Some of the things on my list include: nearby parks, neighborhood schools, the Boys and Girls Club, the Rochambeau, Fox Point and Atheneaum library, the #42 bus that runs along Hope Street, Seven Stars coffee, and the many other wonderful shops and restaurants right in my Summit neighborhood. I am also thankful to have RISD and the RISD Museum, Providence Children’s Museum, Brown University, and good hospitals within a few miles from my home as well as amazing theater, music, and dance all year long at many venues around Providence. I love Roger Williams Park Zoo, India Point Park, the Audubon Society, and having access to the state library system. I often buy handmade from local artists and I listen to WRNI every chance I get. I know there is more on my list, but you get the idea. I really love being a part of this community.

To me “buying local” means buying into the community in which we live. Supporting all these services and business with our money, our time, and our praise and referrals in whatever amounts we have to spare is essential to keeping our community alive.

My mission for Kidoinfo from the beginning has been to bring together everything for families–from the well-known institutions to the hidden treasures–providing a place where we can all get to know one another a little better and support one another in the community. When we share, we all benefit. As I head into the holidays with Kidoinfo, my focus remains the same.

How are helping your community this holiday season? Please share in the comments below.

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  • Lovely piece, Anisa. I, too, am overwhelmed and discouraged by the stuff-ness of the holidays and pressure to buy buy buy. A few years ago I decided that my adult and near-adult nephews and nieces and my brothers and sisters did not need stuff from me. There are so many people who do need material help. Now for Christmas I make gifts in my family members’ names to food banks and other such causes in their communities. I think it means more to them that these gifts are going to their local charities.

  • I agree the “buy local” implies “buying but I interpret it to mean supporting our community in ways that work for us – even if this means just picking up trash at our local park / playground to make it more pleasant place to be for our kids. We drop off coats and toys(new or in good condition) to Camp Street ministries as a way to help others in our community. And when we do shop we try to spend some of our dollars locally. This does not mean we never shop big box stores or online for deals but being mindful helps.

  • Thanks so much for bringing attention to this, Anisa! In addition to purchasing all of the kids’ gifts at local stores, this year my husband and I are purchasing a lot of our holiday food at the farmer’s market. And we’re not getting gifts for one another – we decided that having some time alone together supporting local restaurants, theaters, etc. was more important.

  • Anisa, thank you so much for that beautiful article.

    We are committed to buying local and supporting our local artists and shops. We also are staying home this Holiday and not traveling. Taking walks where we live and saying hello to neighbors.

    Feeling grateful for this amazing community we have and for all that you do to bring us together.

  • This is a tough one, because buying local implies buying, and I really try to keep the “stuff” part of Christmas to a minimum. We’ll give the grandparents something handmade, and some photo gifts (calendars, typically) that include their grandchildren. I certainly don’t need anything and would rather a donation be made in my name. I feel so overwhelmed by the stuff component of the holidays!! And of course we buy for the kids, but I can’t always find the sort of things I want locally. On the other hand, I feel that supporting a small business in New England that shares my ideals is perfectly acceptable, even if the company isn’t based in RI.

    So leaving the consumerism out of it, what do we do? We always cut our own tree at a local farm. We go to local fairs and celebrations. And year-end donations go to local organizations making a difference in our community, not national or international organizations.