What kind of cost/benefit metrics should be considered when trying to support one's local vendors. Mostly I am looking into the printing end of things, but what general metrics should I be weighing? Many particular vendors charge more than I am willing to support; but am I possibly missing a side benefit that might arise from the relationship?
For more background, I was trying to come up with a vendor/cart solution for a site where customers could order prints. In shopping around to local vendors, I found that their costs don't compete dollar for dollar with online shops (quality of product being basically equal). Yet in wanting to support my local economy, I am wondering if there are particular added value s to eating an amount of the cost. IE, "Even if the cost is 3% higher, this is balanced out by being able to [X]."
More background info would be beneficial. Readers may not understand what you are looking for.
In my opinion, by far, the best reason for sourcing local is for the human connection. Actually getting to personally meet your vendors face to face is a huge benefit. Not only does it really help judge a persons character but once they know your face they will treat you better and feel much more obligated to do quality work. (For example: if you're a local client of mine, I don't do a job well, hard feelings emerge, and I see you in the mall the next week - that will be awkward. People know this and automatically treat you better as a result.) I'm a co-founder of a web development company and we have to outsource certain aspects of projects all the time. I ALWAYS go with local talent if I can. The relationships build faster / stronger than with someone you never meet, they're more dedicated, and it's just great to be able to go out and celebrate your victories together.
Again, in my opinion, go local just for the increased dedication and long term reliable talent sources. It's gold.
Talk to the local printers. Maybe they have a certain expertise and you could use them in those instances. Can you offer/promise them a certain amount of volume and get a discount?
They may have slow periods dictated by the local customers. Your online customers may have a different wedding season than you do locally.
Develop some sort of local relationship. You never know when you need a favor.