Ask My Readers | Supporting Local Business vs. Saving Money

Reader Q&AToday’s reader question comes from Shana via Facebook. She’s wondering about how to balance her desire to support local (kosher) establishments vs. to save money by shopping at national chains, such as Costco.

How do you reconcile wanting to support local businesses, particularly Jewish/kosher ones with also needing to find the best possible prices and/or save money?

Kansas City doesn’t have a kosher-only supermarket anymore (although we do have a regular supermarket with an expanded kosher section), so I don’t face this dilemma all too often.

When I do, I will admit that I usually answer with my pocketbook (and my price book) – hoping along the way that the whole free market economy thing will work itself out.

Ultimately, I think the tightness of one’s budget should be the determining factor, although I would love to hear all of your thoughts on this question as well.

How do you reconcile these two sometimes conflicting values?

Do you have a question about budgeting, couponing, menu planning or anything else? Please send me an email – I love hearing from my readers!


  1. I just received an email yesterday that one of your advertisers, KosherKuts Direct, is going out of business. I don’t know if its due to the economy or other reasons, but it makes me consider the chain of support, i.e. we support them, they support you, etc…

  2. I would think that it depends on where you live. If you live in a major Jewish area like NY where the stores are competing w/ each other for your business then definitely shop w/ your pocketbook. The free market will win there.
    If you live out of town and there’s only a few restaurants or kosher stores and you appreciate the fact that they are there and want to be able to run in to buy X kosher product that costco will never stock cause its too rare and market share is too little, etc, then definitely pick up a package of chicken while you are there for X. It helps ensure that their service will be there for you when you need it.
    And, while not a frugal thing, if you live out of town and appreciate the one pizza store or burger joint being there for you in a pinch etc, make it a point to put that in your monthly budget so that they can be around for you in your time of need.

  3. Supporting locally owned stores ensures that your local infrastructure – roads, schools, services get much needed money. Read more about it at the 3/50 Project

  4. There are some halachos pertaining to this topic. If the Jewish-owned store’s prices are X% or less over other stores’ prices, the halacha says you have to shop at the Jewish stores (I seem to remember 16%?). Ask you LOR.

    I wonder if there is a difference (in halacha or otherwise) whether the Jewish owned business is LOCAL or not (e.g.

    • This has actually been discussed recently in our area (we live “out of town”), and a new Costco is opening up here soon. I believe you should try to purchase from the local Jewish store, and if it is more money, you can subtract the difference from your myser money. Of course, you should definitely always check with your LOR. I have to admit, I try to spread my money around some, and buy mostly on price and convenience. I don’t go way out of my way to save a couple of bucks. And I shop very similar to how Toby describes it above–if I’m already going to the Jewish store, I add in a few other items at that same time.

  5. If we’re going to the kosher store anyway, we’ll try to do most of the shopping there. The prices are competative enough that it’s not worth it to travel around. If the prices in the kosher store would be more expensive, I probably wouldn’t buy as much there.

  6. I struggle with this issue a lot. I am lucky enough to live in the NYC area, so choices abound. I will do my best to support the kosher markets when the staff there is kind and helpful. Most places are wonderful, but I have run into a few that act like you are a bother when you shop there. So, I no longer patronize those businesses. Due to my tuition costs, I have to save where I can and that means I do the majority of my shopping at Costco and the larger supermarkets. I do go to the kosher markets for smaller purchases and specialty items and of course, when I am in a pinch.

    I struggle with this because I do not want them to close, but how can we pay their higher prices when we have so many expenses?

  7. Elizabeth Bland says

    Kosher meat and quality cheeses are definitely more expensive for me. I still buy them. I just splurge on that and otherwise try to make dishes from scratch with fresh produce and such. I found that when I went kosher, even living up in the tri-state area, I had some trouble finding and/or affording things. I ended up eating less and had the surprise benefit of losing those 10 lbs. that always nagged at me!

  8. Elizabeth Bland says

    I live in Bayonne, NJ, which, in spite of having three shuls, a JCC and a Yeshiva, we have a dwindling community and really have no kosher shop except for mainstream. Our Shoprite was really supporting a kosher program for a while and the rabbi at my shul would get up and encourage people to shop there so that we would have that instead of having to spend extra $ to travel, but it’s sort of back and forth. They at least are trying, but it’s not like going to Brooklyn.

  9. Suri Fineberg says

    I go where I get the best deals. I do end up at a kosher supermarket every week, as there are things I need that I can only get there, but for everything else I shop for sales. Milk at Costco is $2.99 for a gallon and we go through 2 a week. There is no way I’m spending $4.50 for each when I can get it for $2.99 each.

  10. Where we live, not only are there no kosher stores but there’s also no Costco, etc. So it’s not the same for us. However, here’s what I do at chanukah, etc. when I’m buying lots of gifts, especially books. I buy 1/2 of what I need at a locally owned store, and the other 1/2 at amazon, etc where I get a much better price. Basically splitting the difference….

  11. Definitely considered charity of some level. Not that you can use the increase in your cost as maiser money, but surely G-d repays… But as mentioned above ask your LOR.

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