Monday, April 27, 2009

Live local and shop local - 4-29-09 Mahomet Citizen Editorial

When the town of Mahomet comes to mind for many of the people outside of our community, the terms “bedroom,” and “garage door” usually come up in conversation to describe the kind of town that we are.

The idea behind these terms is to denote that most of the people who live here work, play and shop in places like Champaign and Urbana, only to come home to Mahomet, where they pull into their garages and don’t really set foot outside their homes until the next morning when again they get up and go to work.

However, many of the businesses in the Mahomet area surely wonder “what about us?” And so they should. After all, it isn’t wrong of them to expect the residents of their town to come to them for their needs and services. In fact, for many - if not all - consumers, it could be very right for them to shop locally.

One of the biggest benefits you can find by shopping locally is keeping the money you spend in your local economy. Instead of getting all of your groceries at large-scale chain stores and benefiting the economies of other towns, you can keep the taxes that you pay on your purchases in fund for the town that you live in, effectively perpetuating growth while also sustaining local jobs and keeping wages up for your neighbors.

The next time you walk out your door and you see the new sidewalk or the freshly poured concrete that adorns the road in front of your house, consider for a moment where some of those funds came from: The local tax fund, of which the local businesses are a part.

Another way to look at shopping locally is to maintain the feel that local retailers add to the community. Instead of driving into Champaign to hit up the Starbucks, maybe just stay in town and go to a local coffee shop or get a new roast from the IGA. Without the sales generated by your patronage, these local retailers can’t maintain the upkeep on their stores and may have to either close or deal with lackluster offerings to the public just to stay afloat.

This leads me into another point: We are a country founded on the backs of small businesses and small business owners. Where would Wal-Mart be without the customers that made it what it is? What about the countless food chains that have become national success stories because of their customer bases? We are those customers and our small businesses need us just as much as the national stores did before they became what they are today.

Finally, one of the best reasons to shop locally is the community that you build by becoming a regular customer. Many of these businesses are run by people who have grown up in Mahomet or who are raising families in Mahomet. This builds strong bonds of friendship, a desire for the business owners to do what is best for their customers and a desire for the customers to support those businesses.

We may not change the economy in one fell swoop by shopping locally and supporting local businesses, but we can still help our local economy thrive as we as a town grow towards the future.

1 comment:

  1. And let's encourage our village to be more friendly to businesses other than real estate. Our village has been one of the largest culprits of sprawl in the county, we need to grow smart and according to a plan instead of this ridiculous over-growth we are currently seeing.

    And I'd love to go to local coffee shops. I walk to Ron's "The Coffee Station" most week days... But I don't have a local choice in coffee shops where I can sit and work or surf the Internet. We need more non-real-estate business.