Friday, September 5, 2008

Why a localized economy matters

After being gone all summer, I sadly noticed the huge amount of businesses on our Industrial side of town that are out of business. I know some of these folks. I talked to one lady, mom of my son's best friend, who said because of Lowe's and Home Depot's arrival in our town, they will probably only make it for 1 or 2 more years.

How sad. How horribly sad to have to see another family move and struggle. All because consumers choose to do the easiest (and possibly save a few dollars) choice. These are our neighbors, our friends, our community members. And with every dollar we spend we are in effect looking these neighbors in the eyes and saying, "No thank you".

So, another business goes under and with it more local money gets diverted to national and international corporate tycoons. Less money in my town means the schools get less money, local businesses suffer, social services suffer, police monetary support wanes, infrastructure suffers and even more people get sucked down. But Wal-Mart still proudly proclaims "Always" as you enter , and sadly it does so simultaneously while my many local friends now have to shut their stores and say "never again". When they leave they take with them jobs that can earn a real living and leave in their wake jobs that keep people below poverty. They take with them the richness of who they are that could contribute to us as a community being who we are. They take with them the unique personality that small businesses still have.

For years we have shopped at Ace Hardware - full of local retired men who are friendly, helpful, and extremely knowledgable. I was worried for them when the super power stores moved in, but they said they would keep up the good fight. The other day as I got some paint, I was greeted by a man in a suit behind the counter and his wife. I knew this couple! They go to my church. All along, I supported a local family with each Ace Hardware purchase that was trying to make a living because i stopped worrying too much if I spent an extra buck on a gallon of paint (it might even be less then Home Depot paint, I wouldn't know and I don't care). I smiled had a great conversation with them and promised them I would always check their store first for all building supplies I might need.

Each family that leaves my town because too many "No Thank yous" added up to not enough money to keep the doors open, takes with them a piece of what makes my town what it is.

I want to see them succeed. I want to keep their cute little friendly hardware store alive. I want to see them get to stay in our town, contributing all that their family contributes. I don't want to see them struggle.

It starts with the simple choice I have each day as I tackle my To-Do list.


Tipper said...

I would guess communities all across the usa are facing the same sort of problem that you're talking about. I know here-its the same situation. So sad. And as the economy continues to worsen-it will force more folks to go to the big chain stores in an effort to stretch their dollar. Sometimes it seems like a no win game.

runninggal said...

Yes Tipper, we could get overwhelmed. I will be posting and hoping to generate from the blog world ideas we can all do. I will continue to shop at Wal Mart Costco, and Home Depot as they simply carry things I can't get elsewhere. There is no need to be a purist and beat oneself up over it. Each little choice adds up.

check out

A lady out in your area that chronicles her familiy's purposed attempt to live local for one year. There are quite a few resources she uses in that area - local farmers, local food.