Thoughts of the Editor: Rebuilding a Community
April 23, 2012z – By: Lloyd Green Jr.
Before we begin with Agritourism, the Mendocino National Forest, and the Sacramento Valley River, we have to begin with our citizens. The people that live, breathe, eat, work, and sleep here. Why you ask?
All of the items are great – and will bring in lots of outside traffic. However, they will come, spend a few hours and dollars here and then they go home – leaving behind a huge impact on our communities.
In order for local economies to survive, we need to have the support of our local citizens. As of right now, there is this huge stigma that shopping local and supporting our local businesses is too costly. In a society today where you can log-on to your phone and check out the prices of 900 billion other shopping outlets and being able to purchase it right on the spot.
I understand the part of shopping frugal, but at what part does shopping frugal becomes extreme and when does it start costing us more?
I have read reports where it talks of businesses closing their doors – and how to bring in new businesses to replace them? The sad truth is that those new businesses will only survive no more than ten years, five at best.
Sure you can give new businesses incentives, great rent, signage, and everything. But once the ‘newness’ wares off and those incentives expire, those businesses are stuck trying to recoup the costs. Higher costs, mean higher prices, higher prices mean a shrinking customer base.
This is happening even quicker now, with a new generation of shoppers – the ones who can shop at home in their pajamas. As the economy is getting weaker, shoppers are tightening their belts and looking for the lowest price possible. Lets be real for a moment, the economy was never getting any better. I like to picture the economy like a big trampoline, we were jumping on it having a good time well a rip started to appear – everyone freaked and was afraid of collapse; but somehow someone yelled ‘There is no rip in this corner come over here!” and everyone moved and ignored the rip. Well like the chip in your windshield its starting to spread and inevitably we are going to have to bring everything down and rebuild from the ground up.
I got to read a fascinating brief history of the City of Williams and how it was built by its community. Its no different story than that the one of Colusa, Arbuckle, Maxwell and every Hometown USA; however, the communities found ways to keep themselves growing and supported one another. They didn’t rely on the government, or anyone else. They theoretically picked up the shovels and hammers and built a community. Several decades later the communities are deteriorating and the ‘citizens’ are now yelling “What do we do now?”
Thinking back to how our communities were built. There were no smart phones to scan barcodes and compare prices to the general store in the town over. Let alone computers or the internet. If you wanted to compare shopping it meant that you had to travel on horse to the next town over which generally lead to an overnight stay at a hotel (or friends house if your lucky). It was plan and simple. You moved into a community, you became part of that community and you supported it either through shopping at its local venues and volunteering.
“You can’t get everything locally!”
That has to be about the silliest thing I have ever heard. Most businesses can find or get items for you. It may cost a little more and take longer, but there are ways of getting stuff. Additionally, if a merchant was guaranteed great product turnover then it would be a stocked item. If they are customer service oriented they will be happy to provide you with great service, in hopes that you will return.
“I can’t wait for BigBox Mart to come to town?”
Large corporate stores are never the answer, they are great for big cities and malls, but small towns will be crushed by their severe weight. Additionally, these stores do not support local activities like your local store. If a small church group comes in and asks for a donation – 90% of the time the local business will donate on the spot; where as the big box store will have to go through corporate measures and wait several weeks for a response.
To wrap things up, the future of our downtown district is not on what we can build to attract people here, it’s about educating our citizens of the importance of living within our community and the responsibilities that come along with it. We can not rely on anyone else to fix the holes in our trampoline; we have to fix it together.
Lloyd Green Jr. is the Owner, Editor and Publisher of the Williams Pioneer Review and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.