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Posted: Jul 21, 2009  10:46

The More Self-Sustaining a Community Is, The Healthier It Is


Having owned Bonners Books for 24 years, I feel strongly about local citizens supporting local businesses.

I myself shop locally for several reasons. First, I feel a social obligation to participate economically in my home community. Also, I want the security of a viable brick-and-mortar retail community that can supply what I need to eat, wear and use. I know that such a retail community won't be there if I don't patronize the businesses that provide it. Lastly, I shop locally out of a concern for thrift. I value time at home, and when shopping, I factor in the costs of travel and the convenience of local availability. I think it's a good thing to have a variety of retail stores in Bonners Ferry, and if we want those stores to continue locally, we need to patronize those stores. I've heard it said that items are more expensive here, but they are often less expensive here as well, and I often hear customers exclaim over the reasonableness of our prices. As a consumer, I am concerned about the price of things as well, but that is not my highest value. There are more factors in the equation. People don't always correlate the cost of fuel, time and traffic. Those things have value, too, and I'd rather spend my time at home than driving. The bottom line is important, but the bottom line is different for everyone. The multiplier effect of keeping dollars circulating in the community is an issue that is not black and white. A given vendor might get all of their stock from China or Mexico, but even then, it turns over at least once here in the county.

There are lots of limits, and again, it's a personal choice.

As far as a merchant here, I try to buy locally. However, if you want to buy locally, you have to rely on the merchants in town to do a good job. One way I can be competitive is to sell used books. I would rather sell something to local people because they want or need it than to tourists who are just making an impulse purchase. On the other hand, I have appreciated tourist business as well. Ironically, Bonners Books has become a destination business. People from Calgary and Spokane come in because they like the mix of books I carry and they like my prices, but I'd rather sell to locals.

I never thought I'd own a business on Main Street. I scraped along for a couple of years and gradually developed the knowledge base to do what I'm doing now. I'm comfortable enough that I've got space and leisure to watch other people run their businesses and that's another reason to buy locally: To support other people like me who are just doing the best they can in a challenging situation.


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