It’s definitely worth it to shop locally

Published 11:59 pm Friday, May 1, 2009

Dear Editor,

Over the past several months, while enjoying lunch at CJ’s, coffee at Sugar Rush, visiting with Uncle Bob and otherwise enjoying the amenities that our fine city has to offer, we have noticed and/or heard an ongoing trend that concerns us. As such, we felt we should write this letter to encourage the community to rally around itself.

We are not ones to predict gloom and doom, but we do recognize that our economy is struggling. Most “in the know” say the worst is yet to come. If our retailers are seeing declining sales now, what will be of them in three months? Six months? One year? If our retail market disappears, so goes the sales tax revenues, that so many of our local governments depend on.

Without those revenues, law enforcement, fire protection, schools, roads and infrastructure will all depreciate. Make no mistake about it; we are not economists or predictionists. Rather, we are proud to live in and be a part of what we believe to be a great community. Too often it seems we hear those around us talk about how to they saved money by going out of town to make a purchase. Usually, the savings amounts to a small percentage of the overall purchase price. Factor in travel costs, time off from work, babysitters, meals on the go and all the other expenses associated with going out of town and the net savings are negligible at best.

More importantly though, money spent out of this county never comes back to our county — and we don’t mean coming back in the form of sales tax or payroll checks. What we see and appreciate from our local retailers is their community support and involvement. Perhaps the most shining example in Andalusia is Massey Automotive. They have never shied away from giving to this community, whether it be the donation of cars for driver’s education programs, sponsoring church league softball or any number of events at LBWCC, Massey has always been there. Holmes Pecans has always been a great benefactor of law enforcement; in fact, they recently agreed to purchase a new bullet-proof vest for an officer in Florala. Andalusia Regional Hospital has been a mainstay for community support over the years. Jimbo Caton and Andalusia Tire have always been quick to donate time and money to the betterment of our county. WAAO Radio is always very giving of its airtime to promote a good cause. Tens of dozens of other local homegrown businesses do the same, and while we wish we could identify them all and recognize them for their generosity, it would be impossible to do so.

If you save $500 on a new car in Montgomery, but Massey and others have to discontinue their support locally, did you really save anything at all? We think not. Part of what makes Covington County great is the willingness of a neighbor to lend a hand. Local businesses are neighbors too and they have lent our churches, our children, and our “good causes” a helping hand for many years. It’s time we returned the favor. Now, they need our helping hand.

Therefore, we ask you to consider doing two things: First, the next time you go to a church softball game, your child’s soccer game, Storybook Festival, the Red Garter Review, Crossover Ministries banquet, or any other function or event that requires community support, observe how many out of county businesses donated their time or money to make the event a success. Second, the next time you go to make a purchase, consider whether spending 20 cents more at Brooks Hardware or $20 more at Forestry Supply is such a bad deal, given all that they give back to our community.

We think Covington County is worth investing a little extra in. We hope you do too.

Walt M. Merrell, III

Corey D. Bryan