Opinion

Commitment to shopping local a great New Year’s resolution

TORRENS TALK

It was very saddening to read of locally owned stores closing due to the economy. It is bad enough when businesses close during good times — at least then one figures the issues for the store’s demise has to do with the store and nothing else. Now, the challenges are far beyond the confines of one’s own livelihood.

One only needs to listen to the various experts, economists and pundits to know we are in uncharted territory with the implosion of our economy. The biggest fear is how far is it going to spread and how deep will it go. Decisions made in Washington, D.C. have direct impact here. There is no part of our economy that will be immune from what is happening — it just may take longer for the effects to be felt.

I have always tried to patronize our local merchants whenever possible. I’d much rather see local people do well than contribute to a national corporate bottom line. I do it for a couple of reasons.

First, I know my money will have more impact. My purchase brings revenue directly to the ones who need it. The owner(s) get income that goes toward keeping the store open, the employee(s) get their wages and the business makes a profit.

And that leads to the second reason. The profit will circulate within the community far more so than with a big box store. The owner will help stimulate the economy by hiring local people to help run the business. Those employees, like the owner(s), will need the services and products available in the area in order for them to live. They will purchase/rent a home, buy food, clothing, use transportation, need doctors, dentists and more. In short, they will be using local money to live locally.

The merchants also help in ways they may not want but are necessary: taxes. Part of every purchase is not only a sales tax, but amounts are figured to cover employee payroll taxes, business and occupation taxes and other fees required by law. These monies are then available for use by state or local government where it gets put back into the economy through the various services it provides such as road building/maintenance and law enforcement as well as direct support of parts of our society such as education and health services.

A similar purchase at a national chain has much more of that money going out of state. The national entity has personnel, operations and physical plants elsewhere to support. If it were a local business, all those things would be here.

But, one major reason I buy from local folks is that I enjoy getting to know them. Over time a relationship is established that is mutually beneficial and friendly. It means dealing with people who have made the effort to know me, know what I like and do their best to make it happen. I also do my best to let people know who I patronize because I think not only are they good people but they also are good at what they do whether it is running a restaurant or a retail business. And, obviously, the more business they get, the better chance they have of staying in business and thus I can continue to avail myself themselves of their services — a win-win for all.

2009 is now upon us. It is a time when people make resolutions to do things in the coming year. Wouldn’t it be great if some of them would be to change our buying habits so that this time next year there will not be any more merchants closing their doors?

Val Torrens covers local issues for the CK Reporter and the North Kitsap Herald.

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