Imperial received some somber news last week when it learned the ALCO Store would be closing its doors the end of January. When that happens, it will be exactly one year after Imperial saw its largest family sit-down restaurant also close up shop.
ALCO’s closing not only represents a major retail business here, but also jobs for 14 of our fellow residents. Its closing will be sorely felt, as has been the loss of the downtown restaurant.
As busy as the Imperial ALCO store seemed, it’s hard to believe that it was having problems here. However, all 198 ALCO stores will be closing after it filed for bankruptcy company-wide in October. Imperial may have been a bright spot among problems within the ALCO organization, as well as competition from big box stores like Wal-mart.
The loss of these two Imperial businesses over a year’s time should make all of us look a little differently at shopping at home and supporting our local small businesses even more.
Maybe it’s a bit of an omen that Small Business Saturday is being observed across our country this Saturday, Nov. 29, so close to the news about ALCO. Small Business Saturday deliberately falls right after the so-called Black Friday shopping craze that arrives the day after Thanksgiving. Small Business Saturday, observed the past 12 years, emphasizes “shopping local.”
We’ve all heard of the benefits of shopping at home, but in the light of ALCO’s announcement last week, I think a review (courtesy of Metro Creative Graphics) is in order to make it sink in even more.
Here are a few of the benefits that shopping locally provide:
1) More money stays local. According to the Retail Merchants Association, 45 cents out of every dollar spent gets reinvested in the local community.
2) Shopping locally creates jobs. Small businesses are the number one employer in North America, so every job created is a plus for a community.
3) Shopping locally helps keep taxes lower. The more people working and more businesses in a community to form a tax base, the better financially situated a community will be. The majority of owners and employees live in the area, so their paychecks are also being spent here. When you add the local sales tax also generated, it’s even a bigger effect.
4) Community uniqueness is enhanced. Shopping locally can display what is special about a community. Local stores here have a unique array of products and appearance all their own, not like your big box stores that look the same when you walk in no matter where you are.
5) More personalized. Customer service is the hallmark of most small businesses, especially since their employees often know more about the products they sell.
6) Local businesses support local organizations. Who is it most Imperial organizations go to when they need to raise money? It’s not Wal-mart or K-mart is it?
We all need to make conscious decisions about shopping at home. I realize we can’t buy everything here, but we owe it to our local businesses and community to give them a shot first, don’t we?