Dear Mountain Mama,

I live in a small mountain town where “buying local” is all the rage. And I get it when it comes to buying produce and supporting area farms. But I can’t get my head around spending more money to buy outdoor gear from a store instead of purchasing it from Amazon or other online vendors. The product itself is exactly the same.

Why should I buy outdoor gear locally?

Yours,

Frugal-Minded

Dear Frugal-Minded,

Simply put, supporting your local economy translates into community building.

Outdoor stores employ well-informed, cool, like-minded people who can help you select the most appropriate gear for you outdoor hobbies. Hanging out in these stores is fun and staff can often provide advice or anecdotal tips about your next outdoor adventure.

Buying from local outdoor stores can sometimes mean spending a few more dollars on a camp stove or tent. But according to Sustainable Connections — a group devoted to tracking the benefits of buying locally — non-profit organizations receive an average of 250% more support from smaller business owners than they do from large businesses.

Think about it – does Amazon sponsor your local 5k? Look on the back of a recent race t-shirt. The businesses listed invest in you, so it makes sense to invest in them. And hey, buying something in a store is instant gratification, with guaranteed fit. Sales numbers are actually showing a return by consumers to brick-and-mortar stores, for exactly these reasons.

I’d like to give a shout out to a local business near and dear to my heart right now – Asheville Adventure Rentals. Brennan and Derek, the owners, lent us sea kayaks for a salt water voyage this past weekend. The full article about our paddle along the Georgia coastline will be in a print edition of BRO soon. Without the support and generosity of Asheville Adventure Rentals, the trip wouldn’t have happened.

Frugal-minded, support the businesses that support you – buy your gear from a local outfitter. In the long run, the benefits far outweigh the few bucks you might save shopping online.

Cheers!

Mountain Mama