Resource Insights: 10/01/2019


Resource Insights: 10/01/2019

This is the second of four parts in a string on Willits, California, one the first neighborhoods in america to react to peak oil. But precisely what is a local business? The neighborhood paper, The Willits News, has been supportive of the peak oil activists highly, often providing front-page coverage of their events and publishing letters to the editor and guest editorials on the activities and concerns.

But the newspapers is owned by a large media chain that also is the owner of 56 other papers across the country. So where will the newspapers fit exactly? Hardware stores are usually locally owned, but associated with nationwide organizations often. Ace Hardware Corp. and Do It Best Corp. Are these local suppliers local truly?

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If so, what about other string stores? While some chain stores are possessed by large companies, numerous others are franchises, possessed and run by people locally often. A franchise such as Subway or McDonald’s would fall into this category. Then, of course, there is the problem of sourcing one’s products locally.

True localization would mean getting whatever one is selling from manufacturers nearby. Clearly, Willits would grind to a halt if it needed to source all of its needs locally. But some restaurants, a local health grocery and a supermarket have all made strides by sourcing some of their food locally.

Craft items are sometimes also available close by. But the vast majority of items bought from Willits aren’t made in or around Willits and won’t be anytime soon. The manager of the supermarket mentioned above began to stock local produce at the urging of area activists. His store, however, is part of a little chain which owns about 70 stores in California and Oregon. Should this supermarket be awarded “local” status?

It is an indicator of our globalized world that the word “local business” should become so puzzled. Organizers of what has come to be known as the “Local First” campaign in Willits certainly didn’t want to exclude anyone who facilitates the thought of sourcing goods and services locally. But allowing everyone into the planned program who wished in could have defeated the complete reason for the advertising campaign.