Monday, January 03, 2005

Small Town Turn Around

Small Town Anywhere is about small business -and unfortunately about small vision. Let's think for a moment of the commercial plight of satellite communities of cities, and the responsibilities of both commuters and merchants in generating economic change in towns that principally serve as dormitories of choice for many city workers.
Local hardware stores, pharmacies and coffee shops are now being KO'd by chain outlets on the rim of the big city. There is no quick fix. But, if the townspeople remain apathetic, the prospects are grim indeed. Surviving establishments will have to capitalize on proximity to a large market. More businesses will have to mimic auto dealerships and furniture stores in pushing product by wider advertising. By offering products not being mass-merchandised and by providing personalized service, retailers and service shops can wean some customers from the chains.
A consistent "Main Street" theme can make a difference -but only if local consumers are part of the solution. Commuters have to buy into allocating an appreciable portion of their budgets to the town where they sleep and school their children. This takes a conscious effort. When buying groceries, picking up lumber, or having prescriptions filled, think local -not big box. Think small, not mall.
On a somewhat broader scale, enlightened consumers can easily shift more support to estate wineries and small town brewers. By helping each other, we help ourselves.
With apologies to Nike, Jacques Sweeney says, "Courage, mes amis, Just do it."
In Ontario Farmer Magazine and the Middlesex Banner in January 2002



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