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November seems to be the month when everyones’ minds turn to the holidays — Thanksgiving, then Christmas.
It is also the time to put out the annual call to buy locally during the Christmas season.
I would admit to never having been in such small towns as Meeker and Rangely during the holidays and I would have to admit that the gift-buying selection is smaller in this county than in any I have ever lived before.
However, we are not a desert oasis. There are truly not a lot of outlets to choose from when it comes to big ticket items such as major appliances, furniture or electronics, but there are plenty of holiday gifts available within the confines of Rio Blanco County.
I could go on and on about the importance of buying locally when at all possible, but the most important reason is that we are talking about our neighbors and the importance of a good holiday shopping season that keeps these stores and shops open and members of our own families, those of our good friends and our very close neighbors in business.
Many times, it is our own families that are working at these businesses. Our families and friends are most likely the ones who own those stores and shops and it is a darn good bet that our neighbors rely on local sales to keep their businesses open.
Shopping locally is the one umbrella that keeps covering more of our towns and communities. When we buy locally, the feds say, our dollars spent here are circulated at least five times, meaning that by the time that dollar is through circulating that $1 will be spend at least five times through the community, adding money to the community through sales taxes as well as keeping our family, friends and neighbors in business.
Neither Rangely nor Meeker can afford to keep losing the small local businesses because that is the worst cancer that befalls a community. Obviously, a successful local market keeps business open and keeps our towns thriving and presenting themselves as a place where locals would support their local merchants.
Local success means stores stay open, new businesses come in, prices become more affordable, competition increases and there is more of a local selection and fewer reasons to leave the commumity to spend our dollars.
But it still comes back to the fact that the fewer dollars that are spent in our community, the fewer dollars there will be available to reinvest in our community and the fewer shops and stores that will be able to stay open.
There are clothing stores in Rio Blanco County for the average resident. No, there may not be a Joseph A. Bank men’s store in the county where you can spend $1,200 on a suit and get two more free. That is great marketing, but when you figure you will pay $1,200 for a suit, those three free suits bring the average down to $300 per suit. They aren’t really free.
There are several great art galleries around. There are several places where you can buy specialized gifts and almost all of our stores in the county have gift certificates available for merchandise.
One can’t be begrudged because they left town for any number of items that are either not available in our towns or they are way too expensive in comparison to one of the larger towns or cities.
I would also add that it is up to the local merchants to keep their prices reasonable, to keep from forcing residents to leave our towns.
If local merchants will offer deals to pull area shoppers into their stores for items large and small, they would be benefitting themselves and starting to set up shopper confidence with local buyers.
But one can’t get away from the impact shopping outside of Rio Blanco has on the local merchants, and as Rangely and Meeker both have great reputations for joining together to help each other when things or down, this is truly one direct benefit we can offer our communities.
Get out. See what the Meeker outlets and the Rangely outlets are offering (advertising is another way to let the residents know what you sell), then give them more than just a passing thought before you head out of town.
The imagination should be in high gear this season.
Sure, a gas station sells gas, but there are also little custom items that might make hubby happy to see under a tree.
A hardware store sells tools, but there are also appliances and gifts throughout the displays in these outlets.
Art galleries are abundant, and a nice photo or painting or even a new frame might go a long way to add to the home setting.
There are movie rental outlets and while these outlets offer a great selection of holiday movies to fit all ages, they also offer gift certificates that can be used in the months ahead.
Gift shops are in good supply (literally) as they offer wide displays of goods from picture frames to candles (always a nice touch at Christmas) to cards to holiday decorations and accessories.
But always remember that every dollar that leaves Rio Blanco turns over five times in another community and in another county, and the only persons that get hurt in that kind of deal is you, your family, your friends and your neighbors.