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The Good Life: Your dollar is a vote for what you care about
June 28, 2012 Lisa Betz   

Read more by Lisa Betz
Recently, part of a conversation between shoppers at Fresh Foods was overheard. A woman was telling her companion how nice it was to have a convenient place to pick up bread and milk when she needed it rather than having to go all the way to (insert big box store name). After listening a bit longer, it was clear that the speaker didnít consider Fresh Foods her regular grocery store, yet it was revealed that she was a Geringite.

Donít people realize that unless we all step up to support locally-owned businesses, eventually we simply wonít have the money we need to fund our community?

When someone buys an appliance at Main Street Appliance, they are helping to build Gering, to pay for the salaries of our police department, to keep our streets clean and repaired so we have a nice place to live and can be proud of our town.

Did you know that most of each dollar spent at the big box stores leaves the Valley forever? Your hard-earned dollars go to a corporate office somewhere that isnít even located in this state. Big box companies donít use local providers for services such as sign-making, accounting, legal assistance, printing and design services. They send money out of the Valley to pay out of state businesses to do that.

After the low wages are paid to their mostly part-time employees, most corporate dollars are shipped out of the area. Services and supplies are outsourced through the corporation. Those dollars wonít come back to the Valley, not ever.

When I shop, I care a lot less about the lowest pennies price, and more about where my money is going and what it is supporting after it leaves my hand. I want to support businesses that support the things I care about here, like kids playing baseball and softball. Letís support businesses that sponsor teams in the 23 Club, G .O. Baseball, Gering Girls Softball Association and other activities many of us enjoy.

In the last two weeks, you probably noticed hundreds of baseball and softball team photos in our sports section. These teams are being sponsored by local businesses. Why not take a look, see who contributes to this community over and over again and spend your dollars in those businesses? Support the local businesses that support our community, and keep your dollars at home where they can enrich all of us.

And if you choose not to shop at the locally-owned businesses, donít ask for help when your kid needs to go to Washington D.C. to perform with the band, needs a team uniform or gets a part in the musical.
Seriously, donít ask for a hand-out from businesses that you wonít even pay a nickel more to support because itís cheaper over at the big box. To do so is hypocritical, itís short-sighted and itís downright killing this townís commerce. These owners of small businesses are your neighbors, they are raising kids, sponsoring baseball and softball teams, making this community vibrant, and yet the only time some of them see you is when itís time for a handout.

Think about the money and time and gas wasted going to the big box store for just a few pennies in discounts. Is it really worth it? Add up the time, hassle and annoyance of traffic, crowding and parking and then consider how rotten a place Gering will be when the small businesses close down and our property taxes are jacked up to pay for services like police, roads and other necessities.
Those big box discounts are going to cost us all a very ugly penny someday. The cost will be very high indeed when all of the neighbor-owned businesses are shuttered up, the jobs they provided are gone and so is their support of little Suzieís trip to D.C. When all of the donation requests are targeted at the big boxes, how much money do you think theyíll fork over for Johnnyís costume in the high school musical?

We are only hurting ourselves by thinking short-sighted about those pennies in discounts. We all have choices. Now more than ever the places where we shop are like a vote for what we care most about.
Go ahead, vote for the big box. Send your money somewhere else. Watch that money leave and never come back. Watch the neighbor-owned businesses close, the jobs they provided evaporate and the kids staying home because no one cares about their opportunity enough to help them get where they want to go.
Boy the student organizations are going to be busy with bake sales and car washes and the parents and kids will be trying to sell lots of lemonade when it comes time to do special things. I hope everyoneís hungry and thirsty. I know they will certainly hunger for good jobs, variety and opportunity when the neighbor-owned businesses are gone.

The woman who thinks of Fresh Foods as a convenience store, well I hope she enjoys that convenience while it lasts. If folks like her are the majority, we arenít going to have a grocery store for very long nor any other ďconveniencesĒ nearby.

Talk about being nickel and dimed to death, death is exactly where our neighbor-owned businesses are headed if we donít wake up and realize that we are killing this town one nickel and dime at a time. And when it is too late and we no longer have choices available, neither for shopping nor job prospects, there will be no one to blame but ourselves.
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