I’m not shy about telling people what will happen if they don’t spend money at their local businesses. I’m a very direct person and will tell anyone I meet that where you spend your money has a very real and significant impact on the prosperity and health of your community.
Not all small business owners are as direct as I am. Most people don’t want to ruffle feathers, even as they are gasping for air.
So, I’ll make a pitch for them.
Shopping local is not just for holidays. Shopping local is crucial to the survival of every small business in your town. No doubt you’ve noticed, and maybe even commented on the fact that many of our once special downtown shopping areas have turned into a collection of frozen yogurt shops, chain pharmacies, and tanning salons.
There is a reason for that. And the reason is you. Sorry, but there is no nice way to say it.
If you do your shopping online, you are killing your local businesses.
If you shop at cookie-cutter shopping malls, you are killing your local businesses.
About a year ago, we closed the Winchester branch of The Chocolate Truffle. It was a beautiful shop on a beautiful street, but the high rent and low sales didn’t justify keeping the store open. It was a shame, and we attributed the lack of success to lack of customer support. While people enjoyed looking at our shop, they did not spend any money there. As we’ve owned our business for more than 10 years, we know when it is time to cut our losses. And thankfully, The Chocolate Truffle is doing just fine. But we know that other businesses in our area are struggling much more than they ought to be.
The Hitching Post, a 50-year staple of Reading’s downtown, left their location due to construction and revitalization efforts, and last fall, moved in to the front of our store. We couldn’t be more pleased to have the store here. Leslie Leahy, owner of The Hitching Post, is a long time community supporter, a major contributor to town events and local fundraisers. Both of our businesses have benefited from the association.
What we need now, is for the community to remember that Shop the Block is not just for the holiday season. If you’re buying a gift, please think of The Hitching Post, and all of the good Leslie has done for the town, and how much you’ll miss her if she’s gone. When you spend locally, you are allowing businesses to hire local people, pay local taxes and support local organizations. You’ll also support a vibrant downtown shopping district, and possibly see one less chain pharmacy.