52 weeks of saving: Does it pay to shop locally?

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Editor’s note: Each week, 1 of Bankrate’s personal finance reporters is describing a new way to save and chronicling the savings journey. This week, I investigated whether I could save money by supporting local shops. See what happened.

I’ve rolled my eyes at people who are adamant that big-box stores are the “bad guys” while local retailers are the “good guys.”

Now that I’ve spent time researching the “shop local” movement, I see things differently. I still like the big-box stores, but now I appreciate the ideology better. During the online research stage of this challenge, I kept coming up with the same reasons I should buy locally:

  1. Creates community character.
  2. Provides more money to nonprofits.
  3. Keeps money locally.
  4. Reduces unemployment.
  5. Better customer service and a more personal connection.
  6. Your opinion matters more than it would to a corporate chain store.

But what exactly constitutes shopping local?