Earlier this month, Chesterville residents engaged in a great debate regarding local shopping. Specifically, the discussion came in response to a social media question from a newcomer to Chesterville asking about the possibility of being shuttled to other towns or cities for grocery shopping, among other things. Some Chesterville locals simply answered the question, appearing to accept that the inquiry made sense. Others were angered at the suggestion that one may need to leave Chesterville at all to do grocery shopping when the Mike Deans grocery store is open and ready to serve.
The debate here seems clear. Few would deny that the only two grocery stores in North Dundas – Foodland in Winchester and Mike Deans in Chesterville – offer a great shopping experience when compared to discount grocery stores. Compared to discount places, stores like Foodland and Mike Deans are almost always cleaner and better organized, offer a wider selection of products including fresh items offered through the bakery and butcher departments, and they offer far superior customer service with more checkout lines available, and bagging service included. I have always enjoyed my shopping experience at both Foodland and Mike Deans.
On the other hand, “you get what you pay for” as the old saying goes. Our local North Dundas grocery stores are undoubtedly more expensive than discount stores in larger towns or in the city, though I have been impressed many times by the sales in our local stores.
The quandary for locals therefore becomes a question of supporting local vs. saving money. In the tight knit North Dundas community that we have all come to know, it is not surprising that there is a culture of “looking down upon” those who choose to save money by travelling to Kemptville or Ottawa for groceries. Failing to support local is often perceived as turning one’s back on the community. It is almost something that one must hide to avoid the ridicule.
Something to keep in mind is that for some North Dundas residents, shopping at our local speciality grocery stores may not be a choice they get to make. A dollar doesn’t go as far as it used to, and anyone can struggle with having enough money to buy food, from a single person struggling to pay bills on their own, to a family with a bunch of kids to feed. Failing to buy local is rarely a “statement” or an “argument” against supporting one’s own community. More often, it’s a simple decision required to make sure there is enough to eat on a limited budget.
People can support their local community in more ways than one. For example, those who do larger grocery runs at a discount store in a neighboring municipality often still support local grocery stores for last minute or forgotten items.
My rule of thumb is this: those who can afford to shop local should really consider it. You will support the employment of your own friends and neighbours, you will support the local economy and therefore ensure that local stores and services remain available when we need them, and you’ll even help the environment by travelling less. But just remember – we never really know a stranger’s living situation. Judge less, support more, and (when possible), shop local.