How Do You Shop- Online or Locally?

Posted by Mrs Money on March 16th, 2010

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shopping stream
Creative Commons License photo credit: gagilas

The other day I went to one of our local health foods stores in search of some jojoba oil for my hair and skin. I found it and when I realized it was $14.99 for 4 ounces, my eyes bugged out, I put it back on the shelf and decided I would look for it elsewhere. I came home, looked for it on amazon.com and found 4 ounces of organic jojoba oil for around $6. With shipping, it came to around $11, and I thought about it for a minute.  I didn’t end up ordering it.

It’s a few dollars cheaper online, but I felt bad ordering it from a stranger online versus supporting my local health foods store.  I love the atmosphere (even though it’s pretty small and expensive), the people, and I would hate to see them go out of business.  I felt bad that I didn’t buy it in the store!

I’m a big believer in supporting local businesses whenever possible.  My husband works for an independent restaurant in the city, and we try to limit our dining out experiences to locally owned and operated restaurants.  Someone’s got to support the small guys.  They are what keeps our communities going!

Truth be told, I still haven’t made a decision on where I’m going to buy it from.  Part of me thinks that it’s an unnecessary expense because I can use coconut oil for skin and hair, but another part of me wants jojoba oil.

How do you balance being frugal versus shopping locally?  What is more important to you?

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34 Responses to “How Do You Shop- Online or Locally?”


  1. brite says:

    I think it is a balance for us right now, because we are on a limited budget and not being in debt is more important than buying locally or online. :) That may be a given, though. Of course, sometimes that means doing without either. I do try to buy local more often than not, but I’m about to buy some coconut oil online because it’s about 50% less than my health food store. I support the local store pretty heavily, so I don’t feel bad using this other environmentally friendly company on occasion. The real moral dilemma for me is when I buy books online (which I most often do)…

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    brite- Where are you getting your coconut oil from? :) I would like to get some good stuff, and it’s so expensive in the store!

    I think what you are doing is fine. :)

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  2. We go to a farm that’s literally down the road from us to get organic meat & a farm close to us during the summer to buy our fruits. I agree that supporting your local stores and businesses are important!

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Random Thoughts of a Jersey Mom- I am so jealous! I wish I had a farm like that down the road from me. :)

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  3. I need to do a better job of shopping locally! One area I can really improve is books. There are at least 3 local bookstores that I can shop at, but it is so easy to place that order on Amazon because I am sitting in front of my computer most of the day.

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    Mrs Money Reply:

    Lakita- I hear you on books! It is so easy and so much cheaper to order them online. I find myself doing the same thing.

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  4. I think if the prices are close then I would try to support the local business, but if there is a huge price difference then I have to go the cheaper route.

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Saving Money Today- I agree- I think that’s a great practice!

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  5. Bebby says:

    When I need to buy something, I always make an effort to look locally. For most items this works well and I don’t feel like I’m wasting my money.

    But once in a while I find myself getting very frustrated with local prices. I too was on the search for my organic face wash. Local shops ranged from $42 – $55. That’s so wrong! Especially when I know I can buy it from another Canadian company for $33.

    I’m all for supporting the local markets, but within reason. I don’t think you should feel bad for ordering this online. Though I don’t have the guts to ask my local shops about the price, is this something you’d be able to do?

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Bebby- Wow! That is a huge price difference. Have you looked into the oil cleansing method for skin care? I have a tutorial here on my blog if you’re interested. You can save a lot of money.

    I wonder if I could ask them about the price. They are pretty friendly in there. It would be just like price matching. Great idea!

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  6. harvestwages says:

    I have friends who don’t shop online simply due to fear of losing their money, or because they are not convinced of the quality of the products. i think, shopping locally or online don’t matter, it just depends on so many external factor. Time and geographical location are some of the factors that make me shop online.

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    harvestwages- I am pretty trusting when it comes to shopping online. *knock on wood* ;) I think sometimes I let my guard down too much!

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  7. Mrs. Money – I have the same dilema. I like to shop local, but occassionally I think to myself I could buy this direct and save serious money. Coconut Oil, the exact brand I was buying from my co-op for half the cost and free shipping online. The issues:
    1. The coconut oil is delivered to my co-op with other items, I would be making a UPS truck drive to my home
    2. If we don’t support local businesses they will not thrive and our economy will not recover.

    The solution: I shared with the co-op manager my dilema, she shared with me that I could order a case at a lesser cost and a 10% discount. Overall this was a cheaper way to purchase than even to purchase online, and I got to support a local business (they just made less money than if I bought if off the shelf, but more money than if I bought it online).

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    TreeHugginMomma- I completely understand and agree with your points. Where are you buying your coconut oil from? I get mine at the store and it is super expensive!

    That’s great that you talked with the co-op manager and they helped you with a solution! We don’t have a co-op locally and I am bummed. :(

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  8. Daniel says:

    Ever since I went to Barnes and Noble, saw a $17 book, came home and found it for $10 shipped from Aamazon, I decided that shopping in-store just isn’t for me. I don’t like all the time that’s wasted. Unless there’s something I need quickly or want to try on first, I’m all internet.

    This means planning out purchases and waiting an extra week or two, but that just creates a barrier and makes me less likely to buy something I don’t need.

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Daniel- I know! Books are way too expensive in the store. Plus, I hate shopping with crowds. Weird, I know. :) Shopping online has definitely helped me learn patience!

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  9. I prefer to buy locally, spend at local cafes and restaurants etc. I keep what I buy to a strict minimum in general, so if I spend a little more at the local market it’s ok–it balances out.

    This works for food and agricultural goods, but not so much for clothing or other imported items. Here in France, manufacturing is not exactly at its peak and most things come from China. . .so I don’t really see why I should extra at my local shop for stuff like that. Now, if my local shop offered locally made clothing . . .

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Simple in France- I am big on supporting the small, local restaurants. China seems to manufacture everything for every country. It’s crazy. With clothing, I figure if I shop second hand at thrift stores, that counts for something, right? :)

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  10. BibleDebt says:

    I agree with your stance. Buy local if you can. However, sometimes there is such a savings by buying on-line that it is hard not to.

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    BibleDebt- Thanks! It’s fun shopping online too, and then buying locally if possible. :)

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  11. Jenny says:

    If I can find something within an hour of my house, I’ll buy at a brick-and-mortar store. I have to admit, it’s mostly because by the time I’ve made up my mind to purchase something, I want it yesterday. I don’t want to wait a week for it to ship. Also, I want to feel/see the item up close if at all possible. We don’t have a lot of non-mainstream shops around here though, so I order a lot of stuff (like toys) online. I love Amazon’s super saver free shipping, and usually try to order several things I need all at once just to get it.

    Do you have a food co-op in your area? I just joined one here, and they have or can order stuff like jojoba oil that you wouldn’t normally find in a grocery store. They only mark things up a max of 30% and that’s if you never volunteer to work.

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Jenny- I am the same way. I am so impatient when I decide I want something!

    We have one an hour and a half away :( I should go there. I wish we had a food co-op close!

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  12. Abigail says:

    Well, I tend to shop online, mainly because I have issues with fatigue. So it’s easiest.

    But it’s also because, with cash-back/rewards sites, you can save extra.

    I will probably do more local shopping when money’s not so tight. But at least for now, it’s about saving as much as we can. (Also, with Swagbucks, we can get gift cards, so we’re getting things for free.)

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Abigail- I loooove Swagbucks! It rocks :)

    I should look into redeeming some of my Swagbucks for gift cards. I haven’t done that yet. Thanks for the idea!

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  13. For me, the cheaper the better. I am simply not in a position to be spending extra money to be supporting the local economy. I guess sometimes I do, inadvertently, but I really don’t buy that much stuff, besides food which I get at Safeway or Aldi (cheapest food ever)!

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    myfinancialobjectives- I love that you don’t buy much other than food! That’s awesome. I haven’t been to Aldi’s because they are quite far from where I live. I’ll have to make a special trip one day.

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  14. Jin6655321 says:

    My parents are small business owners so I have a soft spot for local businesses. Every time I see one close I get sad because that could be my parents, you know? I mean, that’s not just someone’s life long dream but their blood, sweat, and tear as well. However, the owners of our local health food store are kind of jerks so I rarely go there.

    Have you check out Trader Joe’s? I get my Jojoba oil from there- around $6, maybe less, for 4oz.

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Jin6655321- I agree. I hate when local business go under!

    We don’t have a Trader Joe’s here :( I’ll have to look when I go visit my mom. Thanks for the tip!

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  15. I shop online primarily for the convenience but price savings is important is well. The only thing I won’t buy online routinely is groceries.

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Bucksome- Groceries online would be weird! The only thing I hate about shopping online is paying for shipping.

    [Reply]

  16. Victorino says:

    Hmmm. I can relate your story. I have bought a camera at a store in our town rather than bought it online, although buying it online will save me money. The reasons are:
    - Confidence with the local store
    - Easy warranty (It’s hard to get warranty online)
    - Time saving
    I think frugality doesn’t only saving pure money, it is also about saving time, because time is convertible into money. If you have bought the jojoba oil instantly in that local store, then you have already save time and effort – which are equivalent to money.

    [Reply]

    Mrs Money Reply:

    Victorino- Great points! I ended up going back to the store and purchasing it. I felt good about supporting a local business and saving the time and energy. :)

    [Reply]

  17. Tre says:

    Its funnt because I love to shop locally being a small community business owner but the problem is they charge to much due to lack of inventory and being able to store it. I always give them the benifit of the doubt though and price them out before buying anything.

    [Reply]


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