We’ve all heard of the trend everywhere in the US and Canada, “buy local”. Even the Mexican government had a campaign a few years back that promoted things made in Mexico. But here in Puerto Vallarta the whole concept has been inverted. Instead, it seems that the motto is “buy imported”. Everyone (who can afford it) heads out to the local super store to make purchases, when similar goods could just as easily be purchased at a local provider. Maybe the local stores are not as fancy or as fashionable as those great big super stores, but they are owned and operated by local residents. Some have been owned by the same family for generations! Sure, the big super stores employ local people, pay taxes and provide a service, but in reality all that these BIG stores care about is their bottom line and making their stockholders happy. And you don’t build the same relationships as you do with local shopkeepers.
It saddens me to see our local baker, hardware store, convenience store, and mercados put out of business. Literally hundreds of small locally owned and run businesses have disappeared in the last several years due not only to the lack of tourism but also our lack of commitment to “buying local”.
Our Mexican economy is one that is very informal. Mexican statistics show that the way people and businesses contribute to paying taxes is archaic, and on top of this, many continue to use age old loop holes and strategies to reduce their final taxable income to nil. In the end it is the Mexicans who suffer. By putting up with inadequate living conditions, schools, medical care. There is much to be done to bring this rich and beautiful country into the modern era. We can begin by educating those long time local government employees that those illegal activities have long-term implications that affect all of us living in Mexico. Payoffs for permits, and back office deals may benefit people in the short term, but really it’s like robbing Peter to pay Paul. We all suffer in the end.
Our local informal economy thrives on our patronage. We may not now be able to do much about about governmental corruption, but, in the short term we can commit to buying from our local, family owned businesses and by supporting our rich and active local culture. Remember, whether you live here year round or just for a few months, your can improve the life of other Puerto Vallartans by going to their store, buying their products and learning about their culture. It’s time to move out of your BIG super store comfort zone and “buy local”. Remember, we are all in this together. The chain is only as strong as its weakest link.