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Forget about garage sales
More buyers, More profit, Less stress

What’s your local shopping style?

By JessicaGlitter 9 May 2014 36

farmers-market

With all this talk of IKEA due to hit Canberra and the excitement about no longer having to make that long Sydney trek to collect our flatpacks of brightly coloured laminated furniture, it feels a little unhip to ask whether it’s actually in the best interests of the city to host this multinational.

But as I started fantasising about a house full of shiny laminated right angles, my husband called me out on the cognitive dissonance I apply in my purchasing.

We all do it.

It’s cool to buy locally grown food unless we want an exotic ingredient or a recipe calls for something out of season. It’s hip to support local coffee shops and restaurants but we get excited about the International credibility of having Jamie Oliver open up or visiting well marketed Aussie chains like Grill’d or Koko Black. We talk about the markets and boutique galleries but we sit at home with a hot choccie and shop on Etsy, supporting International artists and artisans while ignoring the wealth of talent on display in chilly sheds and suburban shopfronts on weekends.

IKEA sells some gorgeous stuff from cheap and flimsy impulse buys through to solid and value for money furnishings, but when we buy from them the only money that stays in Canberra is the wages of sales staff, rental and minimal admin. Not just business profits but manufacturing, administration and marketing all rain in some other financial eco-system. When we buy online even more of the money sinks into that black hole never to help keep our favourite coffee shop open or boutique strip buzzing.

Network marketing appears to be enjoying a surge in popularity as a compromise, a way to support local business, shop from home and socialise with friends all at the same time. The new hip line of network marketing businesses are clean, green and treat their staff well. I’m doing it too, and loving it.

When we hear about consumer confidence or spending levels being up or down across the Territory, I don’t believe we are necessarily spending more or less money, at least to the extent indicated, but I do see businesses struggling and entire communities showing a reversal in fortunes as certain suburban centres receive more or less favour. In many cases people are rejecting local industries saying “we can get that elsewhere”.

So let’s get our act together, Canberra. What can we do to get customers out on the street, in the community, eating at locally owned restaurants, shopping at locally owned boutiques and bringing home groceries from local farmers?

What’s Your opinion?


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What’s your local shopping style?
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switch 9:23 am 13 May 14

sepi said :

There is a Q and A system at the markets. There are farm visits by the organisers, and the organic certification process is quite strict. It may not be 100% perfect, but there is a well planned Q and A system going on.

Question and Answer?

sepi 9:11 am 13 May 14

There is a Q and A system at the markets. There are farm visits by the organisers, and the organic certification process is quite strict. It may not be 100% perfect, but there is a well planned Q and A system going on.

wildturkeycanoe 8:57 pm 12 May 14

gazket said :

I buy car parts off the net because they are a 1/3 cheaper than local Repco, Autopro, Supercheap but still off Aussie suppliers in Syndey or Melbourne.

2 NGK Iridium Spark plugs from England $25 delivered to my door same 2 spark plugs from the local bike shop $43 and I drive out there to pick them up and they don’t even give me a free stubbie holder.

I can echo that sentiment, with a set of 3 spark plug leads retailing between $130 and $260 at local stores [but they have to order them], but on the internet they’re only $80. How much mark-up are the stores making?? Knowing how little the sales staff are paid, I’m sure the profits go toward sponsoring auto racing or some kind of annual manager’s Christmas party.

Maya123 8:13 pm 12 May 14

Masquara said :

Masquara said :

Maya123 said :

There might be no coffee growers in Canberra, but a “sophisticated” (what does this actually mean in reality) shopper would know they can buy Australian coffee, or they are ignorant.

Australian coffee is about four times the price of imported coffee though …

Rubbish. I often buy Australian coffee and it’s about the same price at imported.

No need to be angry. Do name a supplier of high quality, high-grown coffee grown in Australia that is the same price as high quality, high-grown imported coffee!

Not angry, but frustrated with false information. I didn’t mean for my comment to be repeated. I asked for one to be removed, but apparently my request didn’t get through. The duplicate has now been removed.
I buy Australian coffee from my local supermarket in Narrabundah. I haven’t bought it for awhile as my plunger broke, but as I now have a replacement I will be checking the selection out again soon. I have bought it there for several years and there were a number of varieties to pick from. I hope they still stock it.

bigfeet 5:26 pm 12 May 14

wildturkeycanoe said :

bigfeet said :

wildturkeycanoe said :

Our mandarins bought from the markets on the weekend were pitiful in quality and a dollar a kilo more expensive than the batch we bought from Aldi the week before.

If that is the case, why did you buy them?

Only found out when we got home how dry they were inside. You can’t open every one before you put it in the bag and throw reject ones back, the store owner would have serious words with ya.

Fair enough. Nothing worse than woody citrus fruit. Except when you are expecting a clean crisp bite into an apple…and it is actually a brown sponge under the skin.

gazket 5:21 pm 12 May 14

I buy car parts off the net because they are a 1/3 cheaper than local Repco, Autopro, Supercheap but still off Aussie suppliers in Syndey or Melbourne.

2 NGK Iridium Spark plugs from England $25 delivered to my door same 2 spark plugs from the local bike shop $43 and I drive out there to pick them up and they don’t even give me a free stubbie holder.

As far as restaurants I don’t just don’t go, way too expensive for my meager wage. Boutiques that word sounds expensive. Coffee shops well I’d just like a chicken,cheese and mayo sandwich, not artichoke and egg plant on focaccia bread with a sprig of thyme and get charge triple the price just because it says focacciaaaah.

Madam Cholet 3:43 pm 12 May 14

wildturkeycanoe said :

Maya123 said :

There is also the issue of food safety. Not all countries have such a high standard as Australia.

What makes you think the products at the Sunday markets for instance, have any sort of Standards or testing, when they pretty much come from the ground straight into the back of a truck? Our mandarins bought from the markets on the weekend were pitiful in quality and a dollar a kilo more expensive than the batch we bought from Aldi the week before.

The farmers markets are a trust based system. I don’t believe there is any system at any farmers market which prompts sellers to volunteer how their produce was grown or treated. They could have been sprayed with something you might not want to ingest just a week before harvest, who knows. The produce could have been in cold storage next to Woolies produce for the past year, (birthday apples anyone?). And it doesn’t guarantee quality just cos you met the producer and he or she was nice.

Personally wouldn’t buy ‘fresh food’ from Woolies unless I was desperate due to their habit of storing things for long periods of time. But in the end it comes down to what you can afford and your willingness to go there week in week out.

And just on the ‘people believe that organic is more nutritious’….who in the world believes that? Buy it if you wish to (and I do buy organic meat), but don’t talk yourself into being healthier for it.

sepi 2:03 pm 12 May 14

Off the ground into a truck in Australia is odds on cleaner and safer than stuff grown in parts of Asia, where the growers go to the toilet between the rows of vegies, and do not have many controls on the chemicals they spray all over the food.

That Chinese milk a few years ago that was full of melamine and killed people has put me right off food from china.

I prefer to have the option to buy local, even if I can’t always afford it. but if no one buys local, the local farmers will disappear under units and in the future we will have no choice about eating dodgy food from OS.

wildturkeycanoe 12:09 pm 12 May 14

bigfeet said :

wildturkeycanoe said :

Our mandarins bought from the markets on the weekend were pitiful in quality and a dollar a kilo more expensive than the batch we bought from Aldi the week before.

If that is the case, why did you buy them?

Only found out when we got home how dry they were inside. You can’t open every one before you put it in the bag and throw reject ones back, the store owner would have serious words with ya.

VYBerlinaV8_is_back 9:50 am 12 May 14

We tend to shop wherever produces the quality we want at the best price. Our local Woollies is good, and sometimes we make a trek to Costco, or to a smaller independent supermarket to get certain items.

We don’t eat a lot of meat at home, and that reduces the price heaps.

JessicaGlitter 9:41 am 12 May 14

If you’re after coffee and want to support local business, why not try a locally roasted bean? It will be grown overseas (and some of our local roasters are paying well above the fairtrade rate as they develop direct relationships with farmers) but roasted locally and sold fresh, often within a few days of roasting. As coffee needs to be consumed between 14-30 days after roasting there’s no point having coffee that’s roasted in Italy, shipped to Australia, warehoused and finally appears in your supermarket at the end of its peak freshness.

I’m most familiar with Ona as my husband has their beans in his shop but I’ve talked to the Kaldi team and they are seriously intense about perfectly roasting each and every bean, to the extent that they created a new roasting machine and blending process. Additionally, I’ve only heard good things about Lonsdale Street and Two Before Ten, Cosmorex have been at it for ages, and there are other roasters around the area.

bigfeet 9:12 am 12 May 14

wildturkeycanoe said :

Our mandarins bought from the markets on the weekend were pitiful in quality and a dollar a kilo more expensive than the batch we bought from Aldi the week before.

If that is the case, why did you buy them?

wildturkeycanoe 7:17 am 12 May 14

Maya123 said :

There is also the issue of food safety. Not all countries have such a high standard as Australia.

What makes you think the products at the Sunday markets for instance, have any sort of Standards or testing, when they pretty much come from the ground straight into the back of a truck? Our mandarins bought from the markets on the weekend were pitiful in quality and a dollar a kilo more expensive than the batch we bought from Aldi the week before.

As for the general feel of this thread, it isn’t so much about choice for us on whether to buy local or global, it’s all about making the dollar stretch to end of the fortnight till next payday. Those who have the capacity, buy as much as you wish to support our “local” producers.

I am still amazed how a product can still make money after coming from overseas, changing hands several times etc., but local businesses who sell for double the price struggle to survive. Perhaps they just can’t shift enough of it at those prices?

JessicaGlitter 11:27 pm 11 May 14

Thaks for all the comments guys. There seems to be an assumption that the biggest supermarkets and department stores will always be cheaper than the local stuff, and that local may be better quality.

I suppose it’s inevitable that the conversation return to food and drinks, after all we consume food multiple times each day and buy it several times a week. (Even if we do a “big shop” weekly or fortnightly, we buy a sandwich here, an avocado for our salad there…)

In my experience there are cheap and more expensive places and ways to buy groceries. At the supermarket you need to look for those big signs and at the markets and greengrocers it’s usually the front of the stall that has the bargains.

Supermarkets are allowed to, and big supermarket chains are very good at this, identify the few items by which we guage whether a shopping trip has been “expensive” and drop the price to attract custom, sometimes even below what it costs to get those items in. You know exactly how much you should pay for bread and bananas and if you’re like me you freak right out when bananas are over $2 a kilo. And as we have seen in the news, Coles can bully their suppliers into dropping prices. Supermarkets also have a reputation for bullying farmers into dangerously low prices that we don’t necessarily see reflected.

As a vegan and sometimes fruitarian, I do most of my shopping at the grocery section, fruit market or greengrocer and in my experience the big mall greengrocers are by far the cheapest shop with the supermarkets and fruit markets generally even behind. I know sometimes I see something on sale at the market and then my husband sees it even cheaper at the supermarket but often the reverse is true too. And supermarkets tend to have better temperature control.

For staples I’d have to say the health food shops blow away the supermarkets because they actually sell decent bulk quantities. Even boutique health food shops like Mountain Creek have some very expensive treats on the shelves but the prices are quite agreeable in the bulk section.

BUT – my shopping priorities may be different from yours. And even though I identified the possibility that supermarkets manipulate your perception to make you think they are cheaper, I don’t think anyone’s researching whether shopping at greengrocers or fruit markets gives vegans a perception of value.

Masquara 8:39 pm 11 May 14

Masquara said :

Maya123 said :

There might be no coffee growers in Canberra, but a “sophisticated” (what does this actually mean in reality) shopper would know they can buy Australian coffee, or they are ignorant.

Australian coffee is about four times the price of imported coffee though …

Rubbish. I often buy Australian coffee and it’s about the same price at imported.

No need to be angry. Do name a supplier of high quality, high-grown coffee grown in Australia that is the same price as high quality, high-grown imported coffee!

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