By BILL GRAY
Mt. Pleasant News
You know, we really shouldn?t have to be reminded to look or think about this. But taking advantage of local merchants hasn?t been second nature for a generation or two, has it?
It?s almost frustrating to think our culture has changed to the point where we need catchphrases to implore folks to use the convenience, the good service and the great prices they get right there in their home towns ? Mt. Pleasant, New London, Salem, Wayland, Winfield and every local business in between!
You discerning readers have noticed a campaign under way in Mt. Pleasant on the ?Look Local First? theme. (?Think Small? is a theme some small business association is promoting, which kinda misses the point. More on that in a few paragraphs.)
The folks at the Mt. Pleasant Chamber Alliance have done the homework, and with in-store displays and other advertising, give you solid reasons ? eight of them ? why it makes sense to shop in your community.
I would suggest eight reasons only scratches the surface. If you watch the Mt. Pleasant News carefully or check the store posters and placards, they have provided a dollar figure for one of my favorites: The cost of travel vs. the cost of buying the same stuff right here!
We retailers (Newspapers are retailers, make no mistake ? and proud to be!) grouse to each other about other costly factors: How much does it cost for your average out-of-town shopping trip when, along with gasoline and vehicle wear-and-tear, you factor in those fancy meals you buy, or that nagging feeling that you can?t just drive so far and not buy something.
Now as a retailer I?m quick to admit we need to do a better job locally of reminding customers what we have and what we can do. As someone who calls on the brothers and sisters of local selling, I?m sometimes pleased to learn about a local product or service I wasn?t aware could be had right here in Mt. Pleasant or Henry County. Naturally, I exhort all sellers to remember to advertise to your local customers ? to not take them for granted.
Meanwhile, you the local customer should not take for granted the relationships you have established in local stores with folks you may know from your neighborhood, your church, your civic club, from the morning coffee group. These are folks you trust, right? These are folks who will try to help you get what you want and what you need.
And you know what? Since they?re going to see you at church, or at coffee or wherever, they?re going to do their very best for you. Every time.
Driving to a mall to buy? Buying from who knows where on the Internet? Versus local service? People you trust?
No contest, eh?
?Look Local First? is about re-energizing, maybe even re-training, so that we take advantage of what was obvious to all a couple of short generations ago. Buying in your local community is easier, more economical, and even can be more fun if you take advantage of all that time you saved in travel to go throw the football around at Saunders Park or picnic at East Lake (in this weather, why not)!
There?s no need to ?Think Small.? This is a big advantage for all of us to do what used to come naturally.