Troy has a lot of potential. It is the second fastest growing city in the Capital District area of New York State ("City Receives"). If you contact the mayor's office in this picturesque town on the Hudson River, you will probably get a decent sized list of prospective investors and developers. With the local government of cities all over the United States typically focused on offering incentives to draw "big business," who is looking out for the "little man?"
When it comes to prices and convenience, at first glance, local businesses, or, "Small-Marts" are seemingly at a disadvantage compared to mega-chain stores such as "Walmart." However, if you take into account the socio-economic footprint of such megastores you find that consumers are subsidizing big business (Shuman 5). It also makes sense that local businesses tend to invest more money and human capital locally. So a consumer might find that an extra few dollars spent locally, in the final analysis, actually saves them money.
It will definitely save them peace of mind, since it is well known that the carbon footprint of a product bought from a large "fulfillment" business like Walmart, or, Safeway, is much larger (due to a top-down structure of organization that makes shipping goods across country a regular occurrence), than the same one bought from your corner grocer.
With knowledge about the conveniently walkable distances of local businesses, more Troy residents may be encouraged to live healthier, less polluting lifestyles while saving money on gas and promoting a greater sense of community. As middle-class consumers become more aware about how their purchasing decisions affect their local community, there is a greater need for tools that will make buying local easier (Shuman 105-109). With the success of such websites as Amazon.com redefining the shopping experience, it is arguable that online shopping focused on local purchasing options may be a viable way of helping to sustain the community. Buy Local has been developed in Drupal and aims to be this new online shopping experience. What makes this invention so exciting is that it is a mesh-work. It combines the socio-economics of sustainable local shopping with the tools of the internet. Using ideas that savvy internet surfers are already familiar with: user reviews, searchable inventory, map directions, etc., it offers them an opportunity to find a specific product down the street. This service is different from online yellow pages because the inventory is more specific, and can be purchased with a click of a button. It is also different from traditional Web Services, because it is not for one specific vendor, but for all local vendors. Finally, it is being distributed as freeware and is uniquely positioned to help build "flexible specialization" into local economies by encouraging competitive "craft production" (Piore & Sabel).
In conclusion, a new online shopping experience, "Buy Local" is offered that encourages sustainable local development by giving consumers access to a streamlined tool for buying locally.
"City Receives Bond Rating Increase: Standard and Poor, Moody's Say City's Financial Outlook is Bright: Press Release." City of Troy, NY Office of the Mayor. Troy, NY October 23, 2007.
Piore, Michael J. & Charles F. Sabel The Second Industrial Divide. Basic books, 1984
Shuman, Michael H. The Small-Mart Revolution: How Local Businesses are Beating the Global Competition. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc. 2007