Your Investments: This year for Black Friday shop local

"There’s another day you might want to know about: Giving Tuesday. On the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, shoppers take a break from their gift-buying and donate what they can to charity." – Bill Gates

Shopping cart (Illustrative) (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Shopping cart (Illustrative)
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Not sure about you but my in-box is full of Black Friday advertisements. Even in the age of corona it’s hard to miss the big shopping event. Walking around downtown Jerusalem you would think you were on 5th Ave. in New York City (pre-corona) with Black Friday signs in almost every shop window.
Earlier in the week, on our way to a COVID-compliant engagement party for our nephew (Mazal tov, Dani and Tamar!) my mother-in-law was talking about how she would really like to go to Dubai but thinks that it would be better to stay local for a vacation, in order to help the decimated local tourism industry. It’s not easy for me to admit but I am in full agreement with my mother-in-law!
In the past I have railed against the whole Black Friday/Cyber Monday industry. But this year I want to take another approach and that is to not buy from the big global online platforms and focus on shopping locally, helping support local small and mid-sized businesses, which, through no fault of their own, are suffering financially. I believe that we are morally obligated to do so, even if it may cost us a bit more money in the short run.
The Shulhan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law) in Yoreh De’ah 251:3 deals with whom to prioritize when it comes to giving charity. The order is like this: The poor of the Land of Israel take precedence over the poor of other countries. Local poor take precedence over poor from other towns and localities. Poor neighbors take precedence over the other poor of the town. We see from this that we are obligated to support the local poor over the more “global” poor.
Maimonides in the laws of Matnot Aniyim (Laws about Giving to Poor People) 10:18 rules, “A person should always construct himself and bear hardship rather than appeal to people at large and make himself a burden on the community.
Our Sages commanded, saying: “Make your Sabbaths as weekdays, and do not appeal to people at large.” Even a distinguished sage who becomes poor should involve himself in a profession – even a degrading one – rather than appeal to people at large. It is preferable for a person to skin the hide of animal carcasses, rather than tell people: ‘I am a great sage...’ or ‘I am a priest, grant me sustenance.’
“Our Sages commanded conducting oneself in such a manner. There were great sages who were woodchoppers, porters of beams, water-carriers for gardens, and iron-smelters and makers of charcoal, but they did not ask anything from the community, nor did they accept gifts that were given to them.”
Watch the news and you see that all these business owners just want to open up their stores. They don’t want to take charity. They want to earn an honest living. These local shop owners are doing everything in their power to stay open and not rely upon charity.
It is incumbent on us to do everything in our power to help them. Now I am not saying that you should go to a random store and spend a thousand shekels on products that you don’t need. That would go against everything I write about every week.
But if you need to buy something don’t buy from one of those huge online stores. In current times it’s a matter of life and death for the struggling local store and your purchase can make the difference.
It’s not just coronavirus-based morality but there are local economic benefits to shopping locally. Craig Hanson, CEO and cofounder of ThrivingLocally.com, cites a study about the multiplier effect in small communities of buying local.
“The study examined how much of a dollar spent at a local independent store is re-spent in the local area as payroll, goods/services purchased from area businesses, profits spent locally by owners, and as donations to area charities. The study found each $100 spent at local small businesses generated $45 of secondary local spending, compared to $14 for a big-box chain,” he wrote.
The government has produced plan after plan to try and help these businesses. As is with most government help, it’s layered in bureaucracy and falls well short of its goals. Let’s do it ourselves and strengthen both our small businesses and our communities at the same time.
Happy shopping.
The information contained in this article reflects the opinion of the author and not necessarily the opinion of Portfolio Resources Group, Inc. or its affiliates.
Aaron Katsman is the author of Retirement GPS: How to Navigate Your Way to A Secure Financial Future with Global Investing. www.gpsinvestor.com; [email protected]