Sunday, December 5, 2010

Why not shop local?

The race to buy Christmas gifts is well under way. We can't read newspapers or turn on the television without seeing advertisements that entice us to visit businesses who promise great deals.

The same goes when we open our mailboxes each day. I pity our postal employees this time of year because the volume of mail is so large.

A big chunk of that mail is from many of the same businesses that try to entice us with television and newspaper advertisements. They want us in their stores. Plus, they will also use radio, the Internet, phone calls, and other forms of media to get us to walk through their doors.

In other words, the competition for the dollars we will spend this month is intense.

December makes or breaks many businesses each year. This is true during normal years, but it is especially true now because of our nation's economic problems.

The national and state unemployment rate remains above nine percent, but the under-employment rate is probably closer to 16 or 17 percent.

Money is tight for a lot of people, and they have to be very particular about where they spend it.

With this in mind, why not spend this money here locally? This seems like a no-brainer, but the allure of big cities often draws us away from Coffee County when it comes to spending our holiday money.

In the last decade or so, Murfreesboro has become a boomtown of sorts. Many of the services people formerly traveled to Nashville to get can now be gotten in Rutherford County.

Basically, a 60-mile trip has been cut in half. Though this is great in some respects, why not take the next logical step? Make that trip even shorter by spending money right here in Coffee County.

After all, we stand to save a nice amount of money by spending our money locally. We save money on gas and meals when we shop here.

Gas prices will likely remain around the $2.60 or $2.70 a gallon level through the rest of the year. Even if a person makes only two or three trips to Murfreesboro to shop, the cost of just getting there adds up quickly.

And do not forget about extra costs like meals. How often do we travel to Murfreesboro or Nashville and not stop somewhere to eat? Even if we stop at a fast food restaurant, the cost adds up quickly if we do that on multiple occasions.

Additionally, sales tax is a primary form of revenue generation for our local and state governments. While a provocative debate can be had regarding whether the sales tax is a fair tax on the poor, it remains a powerful force.

As the cliché goes, money spent here will stay here (for the most part). In a time of economic distress like we are experiencing, doesn’t it make sense to protect ourselves before branching out to other places?

Again, that seems like a no-brainer, but common sense can vary from person to person.

Please keep in mind that it is understood that we cannot purchase all we want or need here locally. For example, if a person wants to buy a special coin for a loved one, the primary way that can be done is through the federal government’s mint.

Of course, there is the possibility the coin could be purchased through a local bank so even obvious examples like this one could have some local options.

The bottom line is that it is more important than ever to spend our money here locally.

Money is a primary way our community remains strong. There are many elements regarding what makes a strong community, but finances play a critical role.

So, shop locally.

In the long run, the winner is 'us.'

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