The Moral Struggle for College Students: Local Versus Big Chain Shopping

Many college students, especially those in the small town of Athens, Ohio, often struggle with the constant internal debate– should I shop local and support my college town while receiving authentic and often homemade goods, or should I order online from a big chain store, where items will be cheaper, made to my liking and for the most part, I won’t need to leave my dorm. For many of us, this issue is a moral struggle. Although we want to purchase items that are made on our own, it is difficult for someone without a job to shell out great deals of money for clothes and food when it is much easier to pay a couple bucks for something that I know I will enjoy just as much. 

Contactless paying Photo by Clay Banks from Unsplash

Big chains like Amazon, Walmart, and others are competing with college town stores for students business. With low prices and items that students need, it is obvious that they will get more business due to the lack of money that most college students have. During the pandemic, we all know that the local businesses in our town have been struggling. But, when we receive gift cards for the holidays and our birthdays for places such as Chipotle, Starbucks, and Amazon, why would we want to spend our own money when we can easily just use what was gifted to us? 

full restaurant with counter showing Photo by Rod Long from Unsplash

In reality, it comes down to quality over quantity. The local shops and restaurants will have better quality food and goods, whereas chain restaurants' food will be thawed, and the clothing will be mass-produced. So, although you may be paying more, you are getting your money's worth. But, no one should make you feel bad for buying what you can afford. If all you can afford is fast food outside of your meal plan, and that is what makes you happy, then eat it. The goal may be to help one another as much as possible, but you cannot be giving from an empty bucket. Remind yourself that there are other ways to support local businesses. Share them on your social media, and tell your friends about specials at restaurants uptown. Let people know how great the local shops are. Although you may not be able to support your favorite businesses financially, there are always other ways to spread the word.