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There is no more serious and heart-felt column you will read from me during the year than this one.
It’s a simple phrase: “Shop Locally.” And it is nice to look out the window and see your Meeker or Rangely neighbors shopping at local stores because it may be a more important thing to do this year than ever in the past.
The year 2015 will go down in history for a lot of things, but out my window it looked like a pretty tough year on Meeker and Rangely merchants, with both towns losing businesses to the prevailing conditions.
I am not naïve enough to believe that people aren’t going to go out of town or use the Internet for holiday purchases. And I have no real problem with it as long as these local shoppers have taken the time to look around at the local merchants to see their selections and prices.
Every purchase you make locally has a large effect on your friends, your neighbors and, quite often, family members who just may own one of those local businesses.
I have heard reports from both towns that there are businesses just holding on through the holidays to see if they can survive or if they are going to have to lock up and close their doors.
Rangely and Meeker deserve great praise throughout the year for how much the residents and businesses rely on each other and how well they come to each other’s aid.
The holiday season is no different. It is this time of year when reality touches home in respect to business survival. Chances are that not all existing businesses today will remain here by late spring. But your dollars could make all the difference.
Meeker and Rangely are small towns and, interestingly enough, even some of the old timers in both towns are saying quite often, “You know, I just don’t know everyone in town any more.”
What better way to rekindle old friendships and make new ones than to stop into a small business, in either town, introduce yourself and look around to seek what the merchant has to offer?
Let’s be real, there aren’t a lot of businesses to visit and it might make for a pleasant trip or two into or near town to learn what is there and to see if it fits your Christmas shopping list.
It is also the duty of the businesses to price items like they want to sell them and still make a profit instead of hiking prices to the point where they drive the local customers out of the towns and to the larger cities.
This truly is one of the times that the community members need to unite and do what they can to help keep their friends, neighbors and relatives solvent and viable entities in our small towns.
Both towns have lost businesses in the past year, and that is in no way a good sign.
A little bit of each of our towns die when we lose businesses, which means we have lost friends and neighbors. Shopping locally can help make a difference.
Again, I would never tell people in the small towns of Rangely and Meeker to not go out of town. I am only asking that we give our hardworking friends, neighbors and business owners a chance before heading out of town or before putting in that Internet order.
Rangely has a great program and has for the past couple years in which those who shop in town turn in their sales receipts and get their sales tax back. That can mount up quite easily and it can be quite a savings on a large item.
Meeker will hold Small Business Saturday this weekend, when at least 15 businesses and restaurants will feature specials. What a great deal it could be to head out to the streets of Meeker to go shopping, save some money by spending at local merchants and then meet some friends for a discounted lunch at one of the participating local restaurants.
Regardless of the town, there are great deals for the outdoorsmen and women in the house, there are auto supplies, there are health care products, there are new kitchen toys for mom and there are some good choices on electronics.
What a difference we can all make by just checking out our local merchants to see what they offer.
A survey was done last Christmas which I suspect would hold true this year.
A survey of small-town America revealed that if the resident of a small town would agree to pay 10 percent more for an item, they would save a total of at least 19 percent over the cost of traveling a total of 50 miles or more round trip to a larger town to purchase the same items.
Think about that.
What that 10 percent means to your local merchant is a lot more important to them because they don’t have the volume of sales of the larger big-city merchants. It means that they might make it another year and be here in 2016, when you might really need them or their services.
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It was truly fun to watch the towering 6-foot-8 Brock Osweiler in his first starting role for the Denver Broncos on Sunday, then take the team, which had been struggling, turn around and defeat a tough Chicago Bears team in Chicago.
Osweiler started off quickly showing tenacity and a strong arm, leading the Broncos to a first-drive touchdown, something the Broncos have not done very often this season.
It appears that Osweiler may be around for a while as his debut went well. The Denver defense played well but seemed to slack off late in the game, allowing the Bears to get by with a two-point conversion attempt, which, thankfully, Denver thwarted.
Now come the Patriots to Denver on Sunday night.
What a bonus it would be if Osweiler could derail the Patriots.
No one should expect that to happen, considering the circumstances, but, in recent weeks, the Patriots have at least shown some vulnerability.
Stranger things have happened when the Broncos have been involved. Let’s all hope that Osweiler’s debut as a successful starter carries over to his second game, and that the Bronco defense will decide it would be a great thing if they would play all four quarters like each was as important as the first.
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Today is the official start of the holiday season, and for many of the folks around that means some quality time spent with friends and, most importantly, family.
It seems that many folks get to see family each year on at least Thanksgiving or Christmas, if not both.
Never underestimate the importance of family members.
Never underestimate the importance of being on the good side of family members, getting back into the good graces of family members and, for many, burying the hatchet over past grievances, because family is the only force you have that will usually be there when needed.
In my lifetime, both parents and two siblings have passed on.
My two siblings, considerably older than I, had become somewhat estranged due to circumstances beyond my control. Ironically, Brian and Dennis were the two oldest male siblings in the family and because both went away to high school, I really never did get to know them well as children.
Under circumstances I won’t delve into too deeply, I came to the mindset one day as the youngest that I wanted to get to know them both a lot better.
In the mid 1980s, I decided to do something about it and started to get together with Dennis and his wife, who lived in California while my wife and I lived in Arizona. It wasn’t too tough to get together despite the fact that they lived about five miles from the ocean while we lived not too far from the New Mexico border.
We were actually becoming very good friends, not just good siblings, when Dennis got drunk on his 40th birthday and killed himself driving 100 miles an hour up Beach Boulevard in Los Angeles, severing a large palm tree in half about eight feet up the trunk; having hit the curb so fast and hard that it launched the vehicle airborne.
The other brother I had known very little was Brian. He was the oldest—11 years older than I.
He want away to high school at The Abbey in Canon City when I was about three years old, then to Dartmouth, then to the Peace Corps. I really didn’t know him well at all, but I didn’t want that to stop me from getting to know him and his wife.
Brian, the oldest, was worth millions, living in an $11 million flat on Hyde Park in London.
He didn’t help pay the way, but Cris and I went to London to see Brian and Marta. We had a great time for nine days and vowed that we would return the next summer.
Brian was killed in an airplane crash on Christmas Eve that year in Cali, Colombia, on his way home to meet his Colombian wife and two children.
In fact, his two twin sons were the ones who found their dad’s body on Christmas Day after two days of searching by the boys and Colombian authorities.
You bet the incidents broke me up pretty good.
Both of these strangers who were my really unknown brothers had become good friends to Cris and me so late in my life that it was like a one-two knockout. There was a lot of pain for a lot of years.
But today, I look back at the time as a true blessing that I had gone that little bit extra to get to know these two individuals who I could also call friends as well as siblings.
Don’t let this opportunity pass.
Take advantage of the holidays to rekindle friendships with old friends and perhaps close relatives who have become lost due to family infighting, too many miles between you or a lot of years of inaction between you.
It might be the best holiday gift you give—or get.