In the final days of 2013, Jimmyredhed and I began an ongoing conversation about our money spending habits. What would it look like if we went a whole year without shopping at chain stores or large corporations? What impact would shopping only independent and/or local businesses in our neighborhood have on our lives? Out of these talks, a challenge of sorts was born ...
In 2014, Jimmy and I will deepen our commitment to Portage Park and our local economy by spending a year free from shopping at chain stores or big corporations. We are challenging ourselves to shop only at independently owned businesses, prioritizing local even when it's more expensive or inconvenient. We hope to reevaluate our spending habits and redefine "necessities." Every dollar plays a powerful and essential role in the health and prosperity of our community and we want to see how exclusively we can "Shop Portage Park."
As we officially kick off this project, we have set ourselves some perimeters to work within, but also carry with us a knowing that we don't yet have it all figured out. We are sure there are many areas that we will need to figure out as they arise and we will be kind to those ambiguous spaces and may need to alter our plan as we go.
Here are the perimeters we have laid out thus far:
This is a project of prioritization not perfection. As there are many gray areas when it comes to defining or determining chains, franchises, and corporations, we will try our best to examine those gray areas and proceed intentionally with what feels right for us. It makes sense for us to continue supporting Cardinal Liquor at the end of our block, but not CVS two blocks away. These are decisions we will ultimately need to make for ourselves without being absolutist.
We will keep track of all our expenses for the entire year to see how much money we were able to keep in our community/city or going to independent business.
We will share all of the places that we shop at in Chicago and will also share our online purchases too. We aren't requiring ourselves to share all the places we visit when we travel, but will prioritize independent businesses when out of town. Our handle is #portageparkproject2014 so feel free to join in if you wish!
This project is aimed to more intentionally direct our consumption, not to necessarily lessen our consumption although our goal is to question or avoid consuming altogether if it can't be done locally. Along the same lines, we will be mindful of hospitality and sensitive to our relationships with friends and family. Our aim is to change how we spend our money, not how other people spend their money.
We are allowing ourselves on "out" for the year. Jimmy will continue to buy his Old Time Radio from eBay (noting that it is sold by independent sellers). I haven't decided what mine is.
We received a lot of gift cards to big corporations for Christmas and after thoughtful discussion, we've decided to use them: they were gifts (someone else's money, not ours) and we're appreciative of them! Also, we're not in the business of wasting free money. So at year's beginning, we have the following gift cards that we plan to use :: Amazon -- $100, Home Depot -- $100, Burger King -- $25, iTunes -- $10, Starbucks -- $10.
Lastly, we won't sugarcoat the process. The point is to not pretend that this is completely feasible and easy to do. Our goal is to see how we can redirect our spending to our community and identify areas where it is not possible. We will then examine those areas to determine if they are necessities -- if so, we will make the most informed decision possible. If not, we will do without!