Unraveling the ‘Shop Local’ Puzzle: How Local Are Locally Made Products?

Is shopping local ever truly local?

Some time ago, right at the beginning of my journey and at a Christmas Market, my mum overheard an older lady commenting to her husband that my Made in Grimsby keyrings weren’t really “made” in Grimsby. Ignoring the rudeness of the comment without speaking to me about what Made in Grimsby is all about… it raised an interesting question about what it really means to “shop local”.

The keyrings in question were being sold by a local business – me. Does that make them local?

I purchased them from JD Print, who is of course also based in Grimsby. They printed my logo onto the key rings. Does that make them local?

I don’t know where JD Print supplied them from, but let’s say – for example sake – it’s a supplier in Leeds. We’re getting a little further from home, but it’s still England, so does it class as being local or do we shift into broader Made in England territory? Or maybe the supplier is based in Scotland, would it become Made in the UK?

Going a step further, where were the key rings physically made? And I feel this is where things get muddy when it comes to customers such as the above lady. And she absolutely has a valid point. I know for a fact because it is – slightly embarrassingly but I’m going to be fully open about it – written on the box that the key rings were made in China.

So ultimately at what point is it acceptable to call a product local?

I don’t think there is any business that could possibly be 100% “made” in Grimsby. 

Someone selling wax melts would have sourced those scents from suppliers. 

  • A crochet business would have sourced their yarn. 
  • Hat makers, the flowers and feathers, 
  • Florists their plants, flowers and pots. 
  • Bakers, their ingredients may have come from a supermarket or wholesaler.

You get the point.

I would absolutely love to make my own key rings, from scratch, however, something the lady perhaps didn’t consider was the knowledge, equipment and skills that are required to make a key ring, which I certainly don’t have. Add to that the requirements to make mugs, T-shirts, and notebooks. Plus, even if I did have the skills, I definitely don’t have the time or manpower to make them all.

So, I guess it’s fair to say that whatever “locally” really means…it’s a little bit complicated.

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