Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Local Man Shops Locally

When I, the local man, go shopping, I have certain civic scruples about it. One of these is that I like to shop locally, thereby keeping my money in the local community, where I live. To me this means being of support to my community, to help it stay strong in commerce by patronizing the businesses that are an important part of it.

I know I could save money by going to the larger city nearby. And I certainly know there are people in my town who don't believe the way I do -- or, to rephrase that, they don't practice it, probably because it's more important for them to save money. Or perhaps, and I've heard this, they believe the larger selection in the big city justifies shopping there, and more variety in stores. All those things are doubtless true, but for me it's looking for immediate gratification rather than thinking of the longer term implications. What if Mort's Five and Dime goes out of business? What will you do then in a pinch? The larger city is still a ways off.

This really comes up as an issue for me at Christmas. I have a few gifts to buy, Grandma, cousins, a couple others. It's sad to see the local businesses barely scraping by. I go in there and I notice they haven't had to hire extra help for the holidays. The local merchant is hanging on by his fingernails. It's all he can do to keep the lights on till a customer finally shows up. Then if the customer just browses, window shops, or is checking prices on his way out of town, that's a killer. There's some sad townspeople turning out their lights at 9:00 and walking home dejected.

There are plenty of businesses that aren't local in the strictest sense of the word. But they have local people working for them. Wal-Mart, Pizza Hut, KFC, etc. I don't know what happens to their money, exactly. They probably ship it out of town for the most part. But the people working there get their pay, and that money is good for the town.

One thing that would be a killer for me would be to have those very people taking their money and shopping at the big city. I know I would feel very sad to see that. I'm sure I would lose my composure if it were proven and not just an accusation.

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