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Midvale Journal

Shopping locally creates connections

Nov 29, 2018 02:35PM ● By Amy Green

Locally-owned shops like Nātür (94 W. 7720 South) have added to the cultural uniqueness of SLC. (Amy Green/City Journals)

By Amy Green | a.green@mycityjournals.com

There are a lot of different ways to go about shopping this holiday season — browsing at a bricks-and-mortar store, buying online, waiting in line for doorbusters — and each shopping experience meets different personal and family needs. 

But, how does the type of shopping that’s done impact Sandy, Draper, Midvale and surrounding communities? More specifically, does shopping at locally-owned businesses really make a noticeable and positive impact?

Bethany Driscoll, a Sandy resident and mother of three, graduated in economic studies. She encourages buying from locally-owned businesses, when it’s an option. Driscoll knows that it really matters where people choose to shop. 

“When we buy local, it directly benefits the community’s microeconomy. It provides revenue for local business owners, uses local resources for internal use, and creates wages that benefit residents. It also raises contributions to local nonprofits,” Driscoll said.

She tries to shop this way often, because more of each dollar spent locally, directly circulates over and over again. “It allows the community to culturally and qualitatively grow. That means, more resources are directly available for your family,” Driscoll explained.

Alex Hickey is a frequent customer at the one-of-a-kind art gallery and collectibles store, Nātür (94 W. 7720 South). Hickey said his preferred type of buyer experience is shopping nearby. “I’d rather come look at stuff locally, rather than buy it online. You can get a lot of cool stuff, and it has a story behind it.” He also stated, “It helps diversify the city.” 

Nātür is a destination place operated by owner Jean-Michel Arrigona, who is also the creator and designer behind many of the sculptures and items on display. Arrigona has a consistent following of patrons who say their favorite gifts and most positive shopping experiences have come from locally-owned places like his — finding things they could not see anywhere else. 

“If you buy it on eBay, there’s a good chance you might find it for less. One thing that my customers come here for, is they’re able to pick what they want. They’re able to look at the quality. They’re able to make sure it’s what they’re looking for,” Arrigona explained.

When shopping locally, there is an opportunity to get to know where products came from and what the passion is behind those products. 

“It changes what you’re looking at,” Arrigona said. In his shop, he has unique bracelets made from antique button hooks (tiny disks made out of oyster shells, originally for lacing up women’s boots in the 1800s). Purchased online, it’s just a beautiful bracelet. Purchased in a shop, it’s a beautiful bracelet with a fascinating tie to history.

John Roh, owner of The Razor & Dram, a single-chair barber shop in Sugar House said, “Shopping local is literally what keeps me alive.” Roh feels strongly about buying local. “When I put my money into your store, my money is going toward feeding your kids. Your money is going toward diapers for my son — not some investment account where it will become a digit in a computer screen that doesn’t exist anymore,” he said. “Local businesses enrich people’s lives, and we develop closer connections.” 

Another valuable aspect of buying with community in mind, is that many locally-owned stores can help educate buyers, offer “how-to-use” product advice, and direct shoppers to other highly recommended places. Locally-owned shops have added to the cultural uniqueness of each city in Salt Lake — places with consignment goods, handmade items, or miniature mermaid and dragon skeletons. Nātür has those.

There are often locally-owned choices close by to consider — shops with items ranging from domestic, to athletic, musical, to medicinal, to remarkably artistic — with each one ready to impact the local community and, by extension, each resident.