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Shop local this holiday season

POSTED: December 2, 2011 7:00 a.m.

Every year about this time we do an editorial on the importance of shopping at home whenever possible. Two recent incidents have only strengthened our notion that independent, small-town businesses deserve our support. Consider:
• The Independent-Reporter is in the process of remodeling its “temporary” office at 304 N. Douglas Avenue. This past week, workers dismantled desks and bookcases so they could be carried into the backroom for temporary storage. Ken Robson, co-owner of Robson’s Card & Gift Shop, was here, taking time away from his own business to help us break down the desk and other office equipment he sold us after our office was gutted by fire in June. Just try getting someone from Wal-Mart to carry anything to your car — let alone come to your place of business to help move furniture.
• During a recent visit to Brant’s Meat Market at Lucas, we discovered our checkbook was at home — and we didn’t have enough cash to pay for the pepper sausage and other groceries we planned to buy. No problem. Owner Doug Brant wrapped our purchases, provided a bill and told us to mail him a check when we got back to Ellsworth. Brant believes in treating his customers as he likes to be treated.
In fact, neither of these experiences are particularly unusual in rural Kansas. Rural business owners know their customers and work to give them the best service possible.  Robson and Brant are examples of that commitment. Look inside stores along North Douglas Avenue and other places in Ellsworth County and you’ll find similar stories.
But shopping local goes beyond service, especially for those of us who appreciate the quality of life in rural Kansas.
Through the creation of jobs and other benefits, local retailers contribute to the economic well being of their communities. They also help maintain local services through sales and property taxes. And — because they live in the communities where they work — they also are quick to support local churches, schools and organizations.
Perhaps most important, Robsons, Brants and other small, independent businesses like them help define the personalities of their communities. Their survival depends on our patronage.

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