Locally grown. Locally sourced. Locally produced.

More and more in today’s consumer world, these phrases are selling points. You choose to eat at Founding Farmers in downtown DC because all of their food is sourced locally (and also tastes really good, for the record). You choose to buy your new scarf from Ten Thousand Villages because it has more character than one mass produced overseas and because you know the proceeds are going directly to the artisan.

But when does this “local stamp” no longer matter? It certainly seems to matter with handcrafts and food. But consumer goods? Do we care where our lamps or notebooks or frying pans are made?

Rajnish, founder of Avani, an organization that strives to improve livelihoods and create empowerment in the Indian Himalayas, thinks that people do care. Avani employees, for example, locally manufacture solar lanterns (pictured below, courtesy of Nathan Cooke) for the people in this remote region of India. The final product is more expensive than imported solar lights. But the “Made at Avani” stamp along with specific cultural design considerations, Rajnish says, is more important to his customers.

But he is working against the trend. Most companies around the world selling consumer goods have moved or are moving all of their manufacturing to China. They seem to say that the appeal of going “local” is limited to food and handcrafts. Otherwise, people don’t care about the local stamp.

Is that actually true? And if it’s true now, does that mean it will be true in 10 years?

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