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Brookhaven business owner: ‘It’s important to shop local’

Brookhaven residents are encouraged to shop local amid the holiday season and the COVID-19 pandemic.

For many business owners in Brookhaven, “shop local” is more than a catchphrase to put on T-shirts — it’s their livelihood. Kennedy Foster, owner of Free Meadow Market on South Jackson Street, lives this phrase every day.

“It’s important to shop local in general,” Kennedy said. “You want your local economy to do well, to see your town flourish and be healthy.”

Kennedy estimated that Brookhaven has well over 100 local businesses. For each of those businesses, shopping local is what keeps their bills paid.

“There’s so many places you can go,” Kennedy said. “I don’t think people realize how hard it is because you’re paying an entirely other set of bills beside your household bills.”

One aspect of buying local is purchasing products that were produced in one’s town, state and country. For Foster, this is a cornerstone of her business.

“Everything in my store is either made in the USA or is made fair trade,” Foster said.

Fair trade means something is produced overseas, but the companies work with their employees to provide healthy and safe working conditions, along with providing opportunities such as education to their families.

“Just research fast fashion and how the sweatshops work,” Foster said. “I don’t want to keep adding to that.”

One way to ensure one is buying domestically is to check sales tags while shopping. Doing personal research can be helpful as well.

“A lot of people don’t think they can do anything, but they can,” Foster said. “You just have to go in stores and read the tags and do your research.”

Foster encourages residents to shop local at all if possible.

“Call around, ask people,” Foster said. “Don’t assume someone doesn’t have it. Don’t be afraid to ask. Just support people.”