Friday, May 2, 2008

Saving Our Communities

If you have turned on the news, picked up a newspaper, or checked your mail box lately, I’m sure you have heard about the Economic Stimulus Payments that many of us have received or will be receiving. Many radio stations and newspapers are asking you to let them know what you plan on doing with yours. The purpose of the payment is to encourage consumer spending which will boost the economy. In reality, many people will use this rebate to catch up on bills and make ends meet.

I saw a commercial the other day that is so ridiculous it’s actually humorous. It is for a large discount chain – you know the one – the chain that is running small businesses out of town and is on a mission to take over the world. The purpose of the commercial is supposedly to encourage customers to do their part in helping the environment by purchasing a certain product at their stores. If all of their customers-all 200 million of them-purchase this particular product, they will save the world. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

This got me to thinking. If every resident of our city – all 4,700 of us – spent one dollar of our Economic Stimulus Payment at each local independent business, we could save our city. This could encourage job growth; increase sales tax collected for our county and state; and help many of our local business stay afloat.

Recently I had the privilege of discussing the economy with an accountant friend. Her view was that many people are shopping at the large discount chains because they, often mistakenly, feel they can get a better deal by shopping there. These people are forgetting to add in the cost of gas to drive the 30+ miles to these chains to save $1.00 on an item they need. In a year or two when the economy picks up, these same people will be frustrated because all of their options are gone. Suddenly, these few large chains are the only option since all of the small businesses were forced to shut their doors. Without competition, what do you think the customer service and prices will be like at these chains? Scary, isn’t it?

Now I ask you, how do you plan on spending your Economic Stimulus Payment?