Buy Locally...For the Common Good

BUY LOCALLY….FOR THE COMMON GOOD - November 22, 2012

State Representative David Perryman

I hope that you and your family enjoyed a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday, remembering those families whose holiday table had an empty chair because of military deployment.  May we never forget the cost of being free and those brave men and women who daily place themselves in harm’s way.

As Thanksgiving Day wound down, the dishes cleared and our children and grandchildren were gone, Jo and I were watching the 4:30 news on Channel 9.  A feature story was about the annual shopping frenzy known as “Black Friday” and the effect of a 1949 Oklahoma law preventing merchandise from being sold below cost.  The statute was passed to protect small community merchants from large chain stores that entice customers into their stores with ridiculously low prices.  This “loss leader” marketing is extremely profitable since customers, once in the store, purchase non-sale items and allow the large stores to recapture their lost profits.  As a result, the Friday after Thanksgiving has evolved into a frantic competition between national chain stores over how many customers they can capture.  Before daybreak on Friday, regardless of the weather, thousands of shoppers put extra gas in their cars and set out on a quest to buy, at rock bottom prices, things like electronics or toys.

But shoppers fail to see the hidden cost.  Not only is a part of the savings burned up in gasoline, but local communities lose sales tax revenue when shoppers travel to the metro to shop.  Even if the large chain store happens to be located in our own community, money spent there has only about one-third of the local impact compared to money spent in locally owned stores.  According to YES! Magazine, the “local multiplier effect” of buying at locally owned businesses keeps your money circulating in your community longer as the local merchants and their employees re-spend your money closer to where you live.  The positive ripple effect is so strong that over a ten year period of community studies conducted by Civic Economics across the U.S., for every dollar spent at a locally owned store, 45 cents is reinvested locally as compared to 15 cents being reinvested locally for a dollar spent at a chain store in the same community.  That benefit does not even address the sales tax benefits of shopping locally.

One of the customers interviewed on the Thanksgiving Day news story concluded that he was “about getting the best deal possible” even if that meant purchasing from a metro chain store.  However, we must realize that purchases from local merchants generate sales tax, build our communities, repair our streets, and provide fire and police protection and local jobs.  Sometimes getting the “best deal possible” is doing what is best for our communities…in pursuit of the Common Good.

It is an honor to represent your views at the State Capitol. I look forward to hearing from you.  My email address is david.perryman@okhouse.gov.  My mailing address is PO Box 1567, Chickasha, OK 73023 and my website is www.davidperryman.com on the Internet. Thank you for taking the time to read this column and I look forward to seeing you soon.