Colby Townsend: Deciding to shop local |

Colby Townsend: Deciding to shop local

As a local retailer, I like to compare notes with other business owners whenever I get a chance. While talking to another retailer, I was disheartened to hear her say that she will be closing her store in the near future. The theme of our conversation was that the traditional store front retailer quickly is becoming a thing of the past.

We talked about big box store competition, online purchasing and the fading notion of consumer loyalty. But after a few minutes, the scope of this conversation began to come over me like a dark cloud. Our family will have one less choice when shopping, and we may well be losing another customer. What about other families?

This scenario has played out dozens of times in our community in the past six years because of the recession. However, now we are in a new era. Big box stores, smartphones and targeted Internet marketing have changed how we buy a lot of our stuff. They also have one thing in common: They take money out of our community.

Now we have decisions that will impact all of us as we move forward. What will our town look like in the near future as the local businesses continue to close their doors?

Of course, we can get just about anything we want online, so that won’t be a big deal. The question is, “Where will we work?” Without local retailers and our employees we would not need as many doctors, lawyers, contractors or mechanics. Could we support two grocery stores, five banks and all the restaurants?

With a lot of our tax dollars going out of town or lost to online sales, could we afford as many city employees to plow the snow or maintain the trails and parks? Would the city be able to support Howelsen Hill?

Howelsen could be run by volunteers, and we could collect donations to keep the lights on. The only problem would be that there wouldn’t be many local businesses to ask for donations. The same would be true for United Way, LIFT-UP of Routt County, the Routt County Humane Society, 4-H and the list goes on. We do not have a shortage of good causes that need our help.

The true point of all of this is that we rely on one another in a small community. Craig, Silverthorne and Denver stores will be happy to collect your tax money to help their communities. Amazon, Walmart and Murdochs probably will charge a little less, but, for better or worse, the decisions we make regarding where we shop do come at a cost that affects this community.

Colby Townsend

Elk River Pet and Ranch

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