Publisher’s Points to Ponder: Shop Local
I’ve heard many stories about how Olney merchants used to thrive. Some locals said it was the booming economy and high employment rates that contributed to the success of the local merchants in Olney. A declining economy has contributed to the lack of local support in addition to other factors. Regardless of household income, we still need groceries, supplies and professional services; which makes me wonder why we invest our dollars in other communities?
Everyone has a multitude of options for merchandise, groceries and professional services. With online shopping on the rise, merchants across the globe are taking a hit—even retail giants are downsizing. The information age sets the stage for price comparison that allows the consumer to choose the best deal. But, is the best deal really the best deal? Shopping local should remain one of the community’s top priorities for many reasons, but two top reasons include ensuring the sustainability of the community through the recirculation of funds and supporting local jobs for community residents, farmers and professional service providers in the financial, legal and medical industries.
Let’s start with buying products and paying for services in our local community. I don’t think anyone can complain about the traffic jams in Olney? Unlike residents in the metroplex, Olney residents save time and gas by shopping in town. More importantly, you do not compromise the quality of the products and services you purchase locally. If you have an issue with any product or service, you can discuss the problem with the owner or employee, who may likely be your neighbor, family or fellow church member.
According to the Democracy Collaborative, an organization dedicated to building community wealth, community money spent at a local business generates 3.5 times more wealth for the local economy compared to money spent at a chain-owned business. Additionally, local business generates 70 percent more local economic activity per square foot than the big box retailer.
Shopping local means supporting businesses who employ residents. One of the employees at Stewarts said they know everyone who comes through the door. They enjoy conversing with the shoppers who reside in the community and who have become family. When you sit down for a bite in the local restaurants like Lawana’s Family Diner, Lonestar Pizza, Burger Barn, Parker’s Café, or Chick Ole, you are greeted by a resident who cannot only tell you their favorite item on the menu, they can also tell you the best time and place to watch the sunset. Let’s not overlook the service providers like our attorneys, counselors, medical professionals and veterinarians among other service providers. Olney has just about everything you could need offered right here in town.
Supporting your community may be considered a socially responsible investment in light of sustainability and employment. Recent studies predict a positive ROI if every family in the U.S. spent an extra $10 every month at a locally owned, independent business instead of a national chain, more than $9.3 billion would be directly returned to our economy.