Buying Local Saves Money
I find myself torn at times...between big box stores and local businesses. I try to make decisions that are best for our family. Walmart and Target have their appeal when it comes to convenience and low price. But, the quality and customer service provided by local shops many times offers better value.
Sure, you might pay a little more to shop locally, but there are ways to stay under budget and enjoy the local fare. Food is a perfect example.
Attend your local farmers market!
When you buy produce and other products from local farmer’s you are likely buying directly from the grower or manufacturer. By buying direct you are eliminating the middlemen, transportation and packaging, which essentially leads to cheaper prices.
One key to striking a deal at farmer’s markets is to ask the farmers questions about there products and if they would offer a discount if you would buy in bulk. Don’t be afraid to negotiate, however don’t barter too much either. Farmer’s like building a relationship with their buyers. Towards the end of the Framer’s market you could start with something like “I see you have some food left over, I would like to help, what would you give me for $20?” By offering a set amount of money and giving them a choice of what to sell to you, the farmer will not only look to give you a good deal, but also want to offer you some of the best off their table, so that you come back next time.
Loyalty goes a long way. When you purchase from a local business or farmer regularly you are essentially building a relationship with them. Being a loyal customer will often times allow you to earn or receive discounts from time to time.
Buy veggies, fruits, meat and grains in bulk with friends and family to save a significant amount of money. You would be surprised at how much you can save over time if you go in together and buy meat from a ¼ or ½ cow
Shop within the season. If you know what’s in season it will be easier to understand how the local growing system works. This way you will know what might be the least expensive items at your local farmer’s markets or local store. For example, blueberries, corn, bell pepper and tomatoes are in season during the summer months. Where as sweet potatoes, kale, oranges are more winter month foods. If you buy during peak growing season you can always freeze them for use during later months.
Visit at the end of the day. Many vendors don’t like to take a lot of their products back home with them, so shopping later could get you some deeper discounts on remaining products
Ask for free samples. You don’t want to get home and realize you don’t like the product you just bought so make sure if they don’t have samples available for you to try to ask for one, most will be more then happy to let you try one.
Don’t needlessly pay for certified organic. Don’t shy away from vendors if they don’t have the USDA Organic certification. Although buying organic is very important to our family, if the vendor doesn’t have the certification I always ask them how they grow their produce or if they add any hormones or chemicals in the process. Some of the small farmers may not be able to afford the cost of getting the USDA organic certification, however they still grow or produce the product in an organic way.
Here’s a good strategy. When going to a farmer’s market, walk around the whole thing first before buying. This way you see all the competitors with the same fruits and veggies and you will be able to compare prices.
Besides farmer’s markets you might also see local growers have their own produce stands around town, this is another great place to get fresh produce at really good prices. Most of the time these growers are also willing to negotiate when you buy in bulk. We always get corn from these stands in the summertime and it is excellent
If you would like to cut the cost even more, there are some farmers who allow you to pick your own produce from their farms. You see this a lot with when it comes to locally grown fruit. Not only is this a fun family trip, to go strawberry or apple picking but also a great way to save on fresh produce.
For more information on the Oshkosh Farmer’s Markets and locations check out their website, they are held almost all year round!
Neenah also has a wonderful farmer’s market if you happen to be in that area, which is held in Shattuck park on Saturday’s from 8-12 June 17 through Oct 21. They also host Boofest during the final farmer’s market of the season, which is a fun filled family event with games and Halloween activities. This year it is Oct 21 from 9-12.
By shopping local you will not only enjoy more nutritious, better tasting foods but you will also be supporting your local economy to help create more jobs, as the money you spend local will then be used to hire new employees. And by using a few tips mentioned above you will be able to not only support local businesses but also save some money on fresh produce and locally made products.