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Buy locally: It’s the best way to support Carroll Co. businesses

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By The Staff

By RUTH BAXTER

Special to The News-Democat

You only have to turn on the television or pick up a newspaper to learn that another retail business has closed its doors. Circuit City, The Sharper Image, Mrs. Fields and Linens ’N Things are just a few of more than 73 well-known retailers that filed for bankruptcy in 2008. Analysts predict another 170,000 retail stores will close their doors in 2009.

Can retail businesses “weather the storm” of this economy until relief is available and the consumer no longer fears spending money?

In Carroll County, retail businesses and citizens can support our own economy by buying “local.”

How does your shopping locally affect your own business? In a recent study, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance found that for every $100 spent in a chain store, $14 went back into the local economy. Conversely, for every $100 spent in a locally owned business, $45 goes back into the community.  

“By buying from one local business, you’re not only supporting that business, you’re supporting other local businesses,” says Stacy Mitchell, a researcher for the institute.

When you need goods or services, check out what is offered by Carroll County Chamber of Commerce members. Check them out on the Internet, or do it the old-fashioned way and pick up the telephone and call the business owner and ask if he or she can help with your problem.

If there is no chamber member with the goods or services you need, try the Yellow Pages; see if there is a business in the community that can provide the product.  

You can also contact the Chamber of Commerce if you can’t find something you need. In turn, the Chamber can let its members know what is needed and that may prompt an existing business to expand its offerings to meet that need. The chamber also might be able to refer you to another business in an adjoining county. This way, your money stays here in this community, where it can “return” to you from another business owner.

From an environmental standpoint, buying locally reduces the use of gasoline for traveling or shipping, therefore reducing pollution.

From a “customer satisfaction” standpoint, you can provide feedback to local retailers about a product or service. You also can talk to someone in person, rather than deal with a salesperson who may actually be overseas, to rectify a complaint.

And from a personal standpoint, you will gain satisfaction that you shopped locally, and you can help inspire others to do the same.

In addition to networking with other chamber members and local businesses, consider including the “shop locally” theme in your advertising campaigns. Consumers need to know that for this county to prosper, local businesses must survive. Rather than driving to Florence or Louisville, wasting valuable gas and personal time, consumers who buy here allow  local businesses to buy other goods from other local businesses; they also allow that business to hire and maintain its work force, and pay utilities and support services it needs to operate.

Recently, car dealers’ ads ask consumers, “If you don’t buy it from us, at least buy a car from someone!” We can use that philosophy here, by advertising, “If you don’t buy from us, then try another local business.”

Make buying locally your resolution for the new year.

Ruth Baxter is a parter in the law firm Crawford and Baxter in Carrollton and a member of the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce.