Lenox, Mass. — In a world in which the click of a mouse can have anything from high-end cars to fast food delivered to your door, the global supply chain bottleneck of 2021 seems to have come out of nowhere. But the millions of people doing everything from home during the COVID-19 pandemic has created a monster of sorts.
And there’s a simple answer to it all: Keep it local.
The usually invisible pathway of manufacturing, transportation and logistics that gets goods from where they are manufactured, mined or grown to where they need to go has been overwhelmed, according to a Q&A published recently by The New York Times. Besides creating scarcity for some products, this colossus has sent prices to historic highs.
Consumer demand has grown so quickly during the past two years, it's equivalent to about 50 million new Americans joining the economy, Jonathan Gold, vice president of supply chain and customs policy at the National Retail Federation, told Business Insider.
But Goods that are grown, produced, manufactured and packaged locally are barely affected by the supply-chain issues. That’s why shoppers eager to snag gifts without waiting for deliveries should focus on buying local.
And economists urge that process to include not just local retailers but products that are grown and made right in their own backyards.
"Money is like blood: It needs to keep moving around to keep the economy going," author and New Economics Foundation researcher David Boyle told Time magazine. He noted that when money is spent elsewhere — at big supermarkets, non-locally-owned utilities and other services such as online retailers — "it flows out, like a wound.”
Spirited Wines is one of many local retailers that uses labor and resources from right here in the Lenox community.
Many of the store’s gourmet foods and artisan cheeses are made from local vendors. And unlike big-box stores, there’s a personal touch with employees who have direct knowledge about everything the shop sells. This family business has been around since the 1970s and strives to take the stress out of entertaining by helping with everything from craft beers, artisanal spirits and fine wines to charcuterie and cheese boards.
“We provide a local service that you can’t get from big-box online retailers,” said Judy Marzotto, marketing director for Spirited Wines. “Our staff is knowledgeable about the products we sell. We love to advise about the best wine to enjoy or serve at any price point that works for every particular budget.”
Before the pandemic, Spirited Wine’s Tasting Team personally visited wineries throughout the U.S. and abroad to find the best wines and wine values available to fit a variety of tastes and occasions.
“Our Spirited Tasting Team samples hundreds of wines to decide what to select and stock for our clients.” Marzotto said. “For every wine we selected, we’ve tasted about 50 that don’t make the cut.”
Spirited Wines’ staff has intimate knowledge of every wine so staff can describe and recommend which particular wines clients will enjoy. Spirited Wines employees can help explain characteristics such as sweetness, acidity, tannin, body and alcohol to make it easier to determine if the wine is one the customer will enjoy.
Although no community functions in isolation, supporting local merchants helps create the diversity of small businesses that are flexible and can adjust to changing needs and market conditions.