By Joe Buck Coates– [email protected]
One of the best aspects of living in Copiah County is that our locally-owned ‘mom-and-pop’ retailers and service providers are very strong parts of our communities. We have this advantage over many other areas of our state, where local small retailers and local service providers have been lost to time and quick, reliable customer service is hard to find. Year ‘round, shoppers enjoy great benefits from these salty business owners, and during the Christmas season their importance is on display.
Hazlehurst, Crystal Springs, Wesson and Georgetown and other areas of the county all have unique little shops and services that complement each other and work together to help each other out. Of course, this plays right into the hands of local shoppers because if one place doesn’t have exactly what you are looking for, odds are that the owner of that business will point you in the direction of another down the street, across town or elsewhere in the county so that you will–customer service in its purest form.
Another great asset to having a strong base of small businesses in our communities is the short distance between them. Driving time is a secondary consideration, even from one end of the county to the other, both ways. Traffic–even during the Christmas shopping season–is much lighter and much better managed than in larger, cookie-cutter shopping areas outside of Copiah County. And, especially in the evenings, those traversing our county roads and state highways enjoy several lighting displays decorated for the season.
Another strong reason to shop our communities first is we know with whom we are dealing. Many times when we walk through a door or place a phone call to a local business for service, the person answering greets you by your first name. No where else in the state are you going to get that! And, if perhaps a problem arises, our local retail owners and employees are eager to assist and will usually have issues resolved in a matter of minutes–no 1-800 number to call, no website to log onto, no paperwork to wait in line to fill out, just neighborly service with a dose of good common sense.
On the economic side, shopping at home makes the most sense versus going out of town or purchasing online. Our local retailers are not only great at customer service, have a great selection of unique products and are nearby, they are in business to earn a living to provide for their family. Every dollar spent locally not only helps the retailers pay their employees and operate their businesses, but also that dollar turns over six times in the local economy, helping everyone persist. In other words, each dollar spent out of town helps no one locally.
Our communities also prosper when local shoppers shop our local merchants first. Proceeds from sales taxes are directed back to our local governments to be used in several ways which benefit everyone–better streets, better water and sewer systems, better services and better fire and police protection. Who can argue with that?
So, when you are getting in the spirit and going over all the sale papers this week preparing your shopping plan, make every effort to visit our locally-owned retailers first. Eat at our locally-owned restaurants. Call the service providers in our area if you need assistance with plumbing emergencies or your heating system is malfunctioning. Shop and do business with the people you know. You need them, and they need you. Every visit counts. Every dollar counts. Everyone has a better Christmas–and a better year–when we shop with our local merchants first.