2012-10-18 / Opinions

Silly bunch of SquareCrows around town may bring more shoppers, jobs to Wilkes

By KIP BURKE
news editor

I was really happy Saturday to see Washington jammed with shoppers, crowds of folks from near and far, and all spending money. The “Shop Local” SquareCrow event, put on by Washington-Wilkes Chamber of Commerce to draw Mule Day visitors to local businesses, was a big success. That success is a very good thing for Washington- Wilkes and it’s something that may affect you more than you expect it would. Why?

It’s all about jobs. Experts in rural jobs say that every dollar spent in a local economy circulates from pocket to paycheck to pocket about seven times before it leaves the area. Money spent here turns into Friday paychecks for hard-working families in Washington-Wilkes somewhere along the way, and it’s a proven fact.

Because of the Chamber’s efforts, families from Thomson, McCormick, Athens, Augusta, brought their money to Washington, first to spend at Mule Day, then into Washington to shop. I talked to a bunch of them, and asked them why they shopped in Washington. They wanted something special, they said, they wanted to find unique gifts. They were tired of the malls and the crowds, and they loved to shop in peaceful Washington. Some had been here before and came back year after year, and some had not been here before, but had heard about us from friends. Washington was kind of famous for Christmas shopping, one lady said.

I told them we appreciated it, and go ahead and shop til you drop.

After surviving three years of a terrible economy and customers scared to buy, our local small businesses, our stores, our service companies, and our restaurants are holding their collective breath that the upcoming holiday season will be better than the past few. Some of our local businesses did not survive the bad times, and others are still very close to the edge. That’s why, more than ever, we need to support local businesses, so they can stay in business and keep employing local people.

We’ll soon see if folks are still holding tight to their money this year, uncertain over higher costs for everything, worried over the growing chance of unemployment, and threatened by new health-care laws. But after cutting back for several years, some families are cutting loose a little, and Christmas-gift buying may be up some this year. That’s why I applaud Chamber Director Jenny Clarke and the Chamber’s board and staff, first for coming up with and implemented such an outstanding promotional idea, and for having much more planned to draw in shoppers through the Christmas season. As small-town shopping destinations go, they make us really stand out, and that means more money being spent here and more Wilkes County paychecks. But it’s a “Shop Local” event that’s really aimed at local folks, the people who spend money here day in and day out. We really need to spend our money locally just like the visitors. I can’t expect you to buy all your Christmas here, but I sure do ask you to try to buy all you can locally before you go anywhere else, and help save local jobs.

I may not spend a fortune compared to some people, but for years, I’ve been dedicated to making sure my limited dollars stay here in Wilkes County for as long as possible. And this year, even more so, I’m going to search out and find all the gifts for my family right here in Washington-Wilkes, unless it’s absolutely impossible.

If we all quit spending our Christmas money among crowds of strangers in Augusta, Athens, and Thomson, without a doubt we will save some businesses and some jobs of our families and friends here in Wilkes County.

And that, folks, is a gift that keeps on giving.

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