Local is the way to go to build community

Published 12:00 pm Sunday, June 27, 2021

I “grew up” in a small town where there were few businesses. We had a small grocery store, a restaurant that didn’t last very long, and a convenience store that was also a gas station, pool hall and video rental place.

You could drive less than 10 miles to get to a drug store and a couple more convenience stores, and a catfish restaurant, but they weren’t “in town.”

Though several businesses have come and gone in the meantime, today the grocery store, all-in-one store and burger restaurant are gone.

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The catfish place is closed, too, and at least one of the convenience stores nearby. There is a Dollar General, though, right where my high school used to be. Taking my children through the area several years ago, I pointed at the property where the DG sits, along with a community center, basketball gym and police/fire station.

“That’s where I went to high school,” I said.

“At the Dollar General??” one of my daughters asked.

“Yes,” I answered. “On the pharmacy aisle.”

That just confused her more. My fault for not clarifying my initial comment.

It’s kind of sad to me to drive through the town’s streets and remember what used to be there, but I’m hopeful new business will move in and bolster the area.

Did a lack of local support over the years lead to these businesses shutting down? In part, I think. I know deaths and retirements played a part, too.

But I’m a big believer in shopping local.

I want to buy from our local retailers, eat at our local restaurants, take my car to local service stations and support our local economy. Especially if the business is owned and operated by local people.

An investment in their business is an investment in my community. If enough people support a business, it thrives and continues to provide the products and/or services we want to have right here.

These business owners and employees, in turn, invest in the local community themselves.

In the simplest example I can think of, let’s look at it like this: Aaron gets his hair cut at Emily’s salon. Emily takes her car to Pablo’s Tire Shop. Pablo eats at Terri’s food truck. Terri buys her favorite clothes at Jamie’s Boutique. Jamie buys her insurance from Aaron.

And all live and work locally.

Local people keep local businesses going. Plus we build community in other ways as we build relationships, go to church together, see the same plays, send our children to the same schools, etc.

So shop local. Eat local. And while you’re at it, read local, too.

Brett Campbell is news editor at The Daily Leader. Reach him at brett.campbell@dailyleader.com.