Buying local helps keep the wheels of our economy rolling

Published 3:17 pm Friday, January 29, 2021

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After a year like 2020, which impacted so many small businesses and communities, such as Elizabethton, it is important we remind ourselves of the true value small businesses bring to our community.
It has been said that every local economy is a giant wheel — of people depending on people, depending on other people. Car dealers can’t roll without tires. Tire company workers can’t stay warm without access to sources of clothing. Apparel store employees find their commute much more difficult without a car.
On any given day drive down Broad Street. Cars are lined up at fast food stores to give and receive their food orders. Very few restaurants have yet to open their door to indoor dining. Others have limited indoor dining.
Restaurants have been hurt the most during the social-distancing battle against coronavirus. Even during periods when indoor dining has been allowed with social distancing, a large segment of the population still has hesitated to share an enclosed space with strangers. So restaurant owners and employees have had much less income than usual during the past year.
Which means those folks have less cash to buy tires and clothing — and groceries, lumber, electricity, haircuts and everything else that is part of our daily lives. That’s true of employees of all types of local businesses, not just restaurants.
The multiplier effect economists talk about — the idea that every dollar spent at a local business makes its way around the local economic wheel, helping several local workers earn a living — is in full play during the pandemic. And that means that every dollar not spent locally takes several dollars out of the local economy and sends them instead to some faraway corporate city.
That’s bad news for local business owners, for their employees and for all local residents.
All of us have succumbed to the attractions of internet buying. Amazon and other national online retailers have seen sales grow during the pandemic. Front porches everywhere have felt the thump of boxes being delivered more frequently than before social distancing was a thing. Internet retailing is here to stay.
But we all will suffer if local businesses don’t survive the long haul, if we effectively lock ourselves into the necessity of buying from elsewhere.
What can we do? Help our neighbors — and ourselves — by shopping local as much as possible.
Prior to COVID-19 striking our communities and country, the business community was generally robust not only here in Elizabethton, but across the country. However, COVID changed that dynamic overnight.
Even some big box stores and department stores are hurting. Belk’s announced this week that it is filing for bankruptcy protection.
Despite COVID and other issues facing small businesses, each community must take their future in their own hands. We must shop local businesses and invest our dollars in these businesses when we can. We must be willing to invest in local people. After all, they invest in our schools, our community, our youth, and churches.
Our downtown is a treasure, a link between the past, present, and future. Downtowns such as Elizabethton are what drives small business growth throughout the entire community. They are what connects the young, middle age, and the mature. They are the answers to a better tomorrow
Buying local helps business owners, their employees, your neighbors — and you. Buying local helps keep the local economic wheel rolling.

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