Stay local, save time

If time is money, then how much does it cost to shop out of town?

I was recently at an Ashcroft business, looking over what in my youth would have been called thongs, but which are these days known as flip-flops, trying to decide if a pair of men’s size 12 would fit my teen-aged son. The store owner came over and took a look. “I think these will fit him,” she said, “but take them home and let him try them on. If they don’t fit, bring them back; if they do, then you can pay me tomorrow.”

This incident put me in mind of another one, more than a year ago, when the Roden household suffered a computer-related failure late on a winter Saturday that seemed likely to necessitate a trip to Kamloops the following day. Somewhat loath to give up three hours on my day off to travel to Kamloops, I called a local businessperson to ask if he could see his way clear to meeting me the following morning to sort something out.

His reply? “I’m busy right now, but come on down in 15 minutes. “ So I did, and picked out what was needed. When I went to pay, he handed me the price-tag stuck to a piece of paper and said “Come in on Monday and settle up.” I very much doubt that either of the two scenarios described above would have occurred in Kamloops.

Looking at the list of businesses and companies sponsoring the South Cariboo Minor Soccer Association teams, I note that all of them are local to our towns; there’s nary a Kamloops name in sight. Small businesses in our communities are regularly asked for contributions to this or that fund-raising event, and many donate items time and time again; they’re also the businesses that, in many cases, offer discounts to service and non-profit clubs in our area.

“Buy local” is hardly a new admonition; looking back in The Journal I see it was an issue 50 years ago, at a time when travel to a large centre was more time-consuming and arduous than it is today, and online shopping was unheard of. There are items that simply can’t be purchased locally, and of course there can be savings to be made by shopping in a larger centre.

But for everyday needs, the savings to be made by travelling farther afield are often more perceived than real. For me, gas alone makes a trip to Kamloops cost $30 before I even leave the driveway; so at a rate of two trips a month I’m already down $720 a year. And what is your time worth? Quite apart from the monetary value, there’s the value of being able to do other things rather than drive for two (or more) hours (which doesn’t include the time spent in town). With that extra two hours I could watch a movie, or make serious headway in a book; I could spend time pursuing a hobby (cross-stitching, in my case), or work in the garden, or go for a walk, or do 1,001 things more beneficial to my health and well-being—as well as the planet’s—than sit in my car.

I’m not saying don’t shop in Kamloops (or any other large centre); merely pointing out that there can be a cost to saving money. And it’s good to support the local businesses which in turn support our local economy and so many of the things we hold dear. The cost of losing these things is beyond reckoning.