Designing a Market Where People Come First

The case for Local First Consumerism

As a technologist, my first inclination is to look to technology to solve all our problems. However, it breaks my heart to see technology displacing real human interactions and substituting our sense of belonging.

We must recognize with everything in life, and as we witness with our current social and political climate, every action has a reaction. When we consume without purpose or awareness of its effects on our local community and local businesses, we are in effect part of the problem. Have we all not witnessed the store closures and pains of our local merchants as we swipe and click to get the best deals?

Aware or not, we have directly or indirectly helped created this pain. Yes, we can put the burden yet again on the local merchants to stay relevant, competitive, and bend over backward to win our business — but we consumers must also be conscientious and own some responsibility.

Hey Siri, can you introduce me to an interesting local shop?
Siri: Put your phone down, open your door, and start walking!

In the same way we have been part of the problem, I would like to make an emotional appeal to my fellow consumers of all ages to become part of the solution:

  • Think local first: as consumers, there is no shortage nowadays of the promise of a better selection or a better deal somewhere in the cloud, but do we really need to have exactly what we want at the expense of our local economy? If local pricing differentiation is a concern, try to find cheaper elsewhere locally or seek second-hand (see below) — but keep in mind as well that local shopkeepers and dealers have spent time and resources to be available to you physically.
  • Develop loyalty and trust with local businesses: brands do not have faces, merchants do. The brand marketers all want us to develop brand loyalty, but who does this actually serve? We spend more time reading online reviews than getting to know our fellow humans. If we develop loyalty with our local merchants, we not only develop more meaningful relationships, but we will also be rewarded with real, meaningful loyalty.
  • Whenever possible, buy second-hand: I can try to impress you on the merit of vintage, or the virtue of heritage, or the aspiration of belonging to the collecting class — but in the end, it’s really about recycling. Let’s also not forget for all you deal hunters, second-hand usually offers the best value for your money. So go visit your local auctioneers or antiques store.
  • If not possible, buy from local craftsmen and artists: if you must have something new, it does not have to be mass produced. Try to seek out and shop from local makers and artists. Art does not have to be expensive and can be rewarding for both parties if you get to know your local artist community. Neither should your local artists be faceless — and they will not be if we support them.

At Magna Trada, we challenge ourselves to apply technology where it has merits to solve the most major pains of our industry. Too much technology can be a bad thing — as a gadget nerd, I know. We are focusing on the secondary market of art, antiques, and collectibles because we believe in the benefits of recycling and to help the local professionals bring them to market.

When did we consumers become so fickle, picky, and demanding — and frankly, even lazy? I am no saint and have enjoyed my Amazon Prime benefits, media streaming smorgasbords, and online marketplaces, but it’s never too late to correct our behaviors and habits when we collectively contribute to the challenges of our local economy.

Together, we can create a better more compassionate world where we all play an active role in stimulating our local economy.