(All posts are from my hometown of Perry, Iowa where we are vacationing for the next week).
Today, my wife and I helped my parents with several sundry tasks and errands. … My father also purchased a dehumidifier at the local appliance store rather than going to a big box retailer.
In the past decade there has been a resurgence of locally made goods and food. Some cities, such as Portland, Oregon, have thriving local markets and a community-wide effort to “think globally, buy locally.”
Unfortunately, there were many more decades where the motto was to commercialize. The rise of the big box retail store, the domination of fast food, and the decline of the small business have ruled the retail and restaurant world in my lifetime.
The big loser in those decades was the small town main street. The Walmart’s moved in, and the local businesses got pushed out. When I was very young two new strip malls were built in Perry, Iowa. Our downtown suffered and many businesses were shuttered. Even today, there are vacancies in our downtown.
The good news is that Perry has seen a resurgence of it’s downtown in recent years. The Hotel Pattee has become a go-to hotel with a collection of unique rooms I have not seen anywhere else. A nearby community college has built a brand new campus. A new library was built. A popular bike trail now runs right through the town. Not everything has been successful, but it is a better downtown than I knew growing up.
With good management, local business can thrive if people support it. It takes an effort by residents of the community to shop locally when possible. But sometimes it is not practical to shop in a small downtown. And one can often find better prices at a Walmart.
And that is the main street dilemma. Do we sacrifice some convenience and money to shop in our local community? Or do we run to the Walmart for everything because we can save a dollar?Let me add one more reason why shopping locally might be a better choice. It is a chance to give back. One can help the local business person who happens to be our neighbor. We help them stay in business, and they often will keep that money in the community.
The main street dilemma. Yet another choice we can make to give a little back.
And did I mention that Walmart started as a main street business?