We welcome Chris Hudock, director of The Rising Tide Community Loan Fund to Poverty’s Edge. Chris is strong supporter of our local communities’ small businesses. He has been providing financial support to small businesses in theLehighValley since 2005. Thanks for contributing!
While this starts out like a fairy tale this is actually a true story. Once upon a time, most communities consisted of a variety of small business owners. One could easily walk down the street to your local drug store when the kids were sick or stopped at the corner grocery store/butcher shop for dinner. These businesses were not large corporations whose headquarters were located in another state or country, they were businesses owned by your neighbors. Instead of corporate names like CVS and Giant there was Smith’s Drug Store and Muhr’s Market. One knew the owners and more often than not the employees, for they were your best friend’s mom or perhaps a high school buddy. Money spent in these stores stayed in your town. The business paid local taxes, employed local people and the owners spent their money locally. Perhaps they sponsored the local baseball team or allowed a family in a financial pinch to purchase on credit. They were the backbone of our community!
For many reasons we, as a society, got away from supporting our local businesses. You may be shocked to know this but they still exist and they still need our support. The shear size of the big-box store and their endless marketing budget has made the locally owned small business an afterthought for many. Now, I’m not suggesting that we go back to a time when Walmart and Walgreens didn’t exist, for they serve a very useful purpose. They offer the convenience that small businesses never could; they have extensive inventories, expanded hours and a familiarity that brings comfort. In many ways they have made our lives easier.
I am, however, suggesting that we give our local small businesses some consideration before we automatically go to the big-box store next time we need something. Yes, you may pay slightly more for the item and they may not be open 24-hours a day but that is not necessarily a bad thing. You may well find a unique product of better quality and perhaps you will be served by a high school student who was given their first job. Supporting a local business allows them to hire more workers and give back to their community. Their corporate headquarters is often in the very town their shop is located and they support other small businesses by purchasing needed product and services from them. They continue to play a vital role in the health of our neighborhoods.
While you may no longer be able to run a tab until payday, small business owners still do much for their communities and they deserve our support. So, next time you need to go shopping, stop by a local small business before hitting the big-box store. You are likely to be pleasantly surprised.