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Street Talk

Shopping Local Keeps 45 Percent Of Your Hard Earned Money Circulating In Town


This coming Friday evening is the late night Christmas In The Valley on Main Street. There will be carriage rides, later opening hours for Christmas shopping, art show openings, as well as live music at the brewery. The fun continues on Saturday with the downtown Christmas parade and the tour of four beautiful homes in the Valley. Friday and Saturday will be good days to be downtown. 

Black Friday data is already coming in, sales are a bit down for big box store retailers, but there is a dramatic shift to online sales. This information is even before Cyber Monday, with online sales having a significant jump this year. Early estimates are ranging from a seven to 20 percent increase. It is getting easier to order something online, especially once you’ve set up an account, I get that. But easy is not always best. 

Driving this increasing trend is folks ordering right off their phones. I’ve a good friend in Atlanta; he even gets his toilet paper online. Says it’s a deal. Maybe he does save a buck or a nearby drive, but I don’t want the UPS guy delivering to me a-wipes. I’m going to the Pig. Or Fred’s. Or the Dollar Store. 

Here’s the deal, spend your money online and not a single red cent stays local and circulating. Heck, even the UPS and Fed Ex depots are in Batesville. Buy from a national retailer with a local store and, on average, a dozen of your dollars for every hundred will stay in the Valley doing good. Buy from a locally owned and operated store and the average is f45 percent stays here. That’s a crazy big difference. Thanks for buying local, it is making a difference for the town and I think you can see that. 

Last week there was a pretty big group of folks getting the Presidential Medal of Freedom. It is the nation’s highest civilian award; 21 people received it this year. Bruce Springsteen was one of them. Singer-song writers like Springsteen or John Mellencamp (think songs of like Pink Houses and Small Town) have always sung about working hard and small town life – the ups and downs, the joys and discriminations, the hopes and attitudes, the enduring and the escape. Springsteen’s 1975 song, Born to Run, “baby this towns rips the bones from your back, it’s a death trap, it’s a suicide rap, we gotta get out while we’re young” captures that desire to escape what seems a stifling place.  

His 1985 song My Hometown: “Now Main Street’s whitewashed windows and vacant stores. Seems like there ain’t nobody wants to come down here no more. They’re closing down the textile mill across the railroad tracks. Foreman says these jobs are going boys and they ain’t coming back to your hometown” hits the economic misery faced by so many in former factory towns.”

Springsteen’s New Jersey and Mellencamp’s Indiana have known hard times. Lord knows Mississippi has hard times songs covered. We’re where a whole genre of hard times songs come from, the Blues.

The whole depletion of small towns across the country, the steady jobs going away, and Main Street with it, makes me believe for once, Water Valley is ahead of the curve.  Water Valley’s hardest hit, the railroad leaving, was the late 1920s. The mills and factories of the east coast and upper Midwest, that’s 1960s to the present.  We have at least a 40-year jump on them.

The future is already here for us. In manufacturing it is the high tech machining; an international company like BorgWarner and homegrown company like Valley Tool. The resurgence of retail, banking, restaurants, and arts, plus the addition of brewing on Main Street strengthens the existing and adds the new. The promise of Base Camp Academy takes the next generation creative and digital. 

We’ve had the tough luck, making our own now, and singing a bouncing back story. 

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