A Concord Carpenter Comments on the Importance of Supporting Concord’s Local Businesses.
With all its historical significance, Concord has long had the most beautiful, vibrant and charming retail areas with an interesting array of merchants and businesses. With today’s economy, we need more than ever to make a concerted effort to stress and teach the importance of supporting local business. We need to spend our money locally and support our local merchants.
Tonight as I drove through town I saw the vacant space at 23 Main Street and felt a sadness in the pit in my stomach. I try to do most of my shopping here in town but I couldn’t help but wonder if there isn’t more that I can do.
Big Box vs. Small Folk
It’s sometimes difficult to shop locally when you’re tempted by the big box giants that dominate production and sales – not to mention the online websites enjoying no rent, much less overhead and the ability of offer cut-throat pricing and offers of “free” shipping.
But who are the people behind these businesses? Do they care about their customers? Who do you speak to when you have a problem or a complaint?
Supporting Local Businesses
Our local businesses provide us with more options and better customer service than the big box stores and websites can offer. With local business the likelihood of developing a friendly relationship with the owner or the employees is real and there are the added benefits of ease in transactions, returns and potential problem solving.
If I have a hardware or lumber problem at Home Depot, can I call, ask for and actually speak to the owner – as I can with Scott at Vanderhoof Hardware or Al Foss at Concord Lumber?
If I have a request for a special occasion cake can I call Costco and speak to the baker – as I can when I call Sally Ann’s and speak with Bill?
For this reason and more, as long as I can recall, I have tried to do most of my shopping here in town. The fact that the big box stores are not a ten minute walk from my house like the local shops is obviously a plus.
And what commercial giant will respond to my request for gift wrap and extend me informal credit?
Informal Credit Still Alive
Concord is one of the few places with businesses still willing to offer residents informal credit for purchases with a bill at the end of the month.
Gift wrapping is a real concern ~ especially for guys! My wife jokes with me because I prefer to and always end up shopping at the Concord stores that gift wrap. Call me lazy but they just do a better job of wrapping than I’d ever do.
Local business owners have typically invested their life savings in their business and help provide a positive contribution to our town’s long-term fiscal health and quality of life. They create jobs, boost the local tax base and are invested in the fabric of our town. If you look behind the scenes at any civic activity or charitable endeavor contributing to Concord’s community spirit, you’re likely to find local business owners volunteering their time, and very often their goods and money, to the cause.
A recent example of this is the upcoming March 8th Winter benefit for the local Non-Profit, The Nature Connection in which they will be exhibiting a Wolf at the Alcott School. This educational event, open to the public, is primarily sponsored by environmentalist and local painting contractor, Mark O’Lalor.
Local businesses employ and hire an array of direct and supporting local services: architects, designers, tradesmen (carpenters, electricians, painters and plumbers, sign makers), accountants, lawyers, insurance brokers, computer consultants, and advertising agencies to help run and maintain their businesses.
The fact that a long-time local businesses like Patriot Travel could no longer afford a Main Street store front leaves a social and economic void that is real. The emptiness I felt driving by this travel agent’s former place was real. It’s time for all of us to consider the cost to our community when we lose a locally owned business.
As a resident of this town I believe it’s my responsibility to ensure that our community character endures through these tough economic times and to help prevent the disturbing disappearance of local stores and businesses whose owners have helped define our sense and pride of place. Let’s never forget that their survival depends on our patronage.