I’ve been amazed, and humbled, by the reaction I’ve gotten to this column. I’ve had people recognize me on the street saying “You write that thing in the paper, right?” or “I see your face every week.” I’ve had people at church or other places stop me and tell me they really like what I write and to keep it up.
A couple days ago, I stopped by Jeff’s Auto in Quick to renew my car’s safety inspection sticker. Jeff greeted me, as he does everyone, and asked how things were going. And then he launched into something that was on his mind. He said “Not to tell you what you should write about, but you need to write about supporting local businesses or there won’t be any left.” He went on to explain that people come to him for the barest of basic services, like putting air in their daughter’s tires, but then go out to a big box store when it is time to replace those same tires. In other words, they want him there when they need him, but don’t even think about giving him business when it comes to bigger items.
Obviously, this issue has been going on a long time. When larger department stores opened, they drove the small mom and pop stores out of business. When the mall opened, it killed the downtown business. Southridge has hurt the mall as people chase convenience and economy. And, of course, online shopping is changing everything as people go to stores to look at items and then go home to purchase them online.
I think the basic issue is the same as the Made in America campaign on the evening news. No one expects everyone to avoid the big box stores the same way no one expects every clothing item or electronic gadget will be made in America. But next time you’re shopping, consider buying it from a local business. Consider dinner at a restaurant that isn’t part of a chain. If we look out for each other and support locally-owned businesses, the money we spend stays in our community. Of course, the thing that those locally-owned businesses can offer is service. I hadn’t been in Jeff’s place in a while, but he remembered what car I drove as I walked through the door.
We can all complain about big businesses and greedy corporate executives and the bonuses they receive whether the business does well or not, but the answer is pretty simple. We all have a voice and it starts when and where we open our wallets..