One of the things that the Luling Main Street group feels extremely passionate about is the need for all of us locals to… well… “shop local”. It’s very important that we all recognize the direct and extreme benefits that doing so has on this community and everyone in it. We have talked about various ways of going about it in this column (the 3/50 Project- where everyone finds a way to spend $50 locally every month at your 3 favorite local businesses) and our group has planned events and activities that are specifically designed to spur economic activity in the district. Being in the position I am in, I have the privilege of seeing what other towns are doing, and I have the ability to copy them and implement their successful ideas right here in L-town. I guess that little scenario can play out the other way also because I’ve seen other people copy our ideas as well… Oh well… When it works fine, don’t change it right? But it is very important in this day and age to support our local mom and pop shops to insure their future success. But here is a different way to look at it…
When you buy from a local merchant YOU ARE NOT paying for a 3rd vacation home for some CEO somewhere. You are not supplying the fuel to his/her private jet to make their annual trip to Maui. But what you ARE paying for a local team’s Little League uniform. You are putting food on some local persons table and helping pay for a scholarship to help send a local student to college. You are paying for music lessons and school supplies and equipment for our local kiddos. You are making the American Dream come true for somebody in our community… probably someone you know. When you buy local, these dollars cause a ripple effect which supports all kinds of local needs and local services. Your dollars allow our local merchants to reinvest in THIS community and creates local jobs for many people who you may even call friends. Better yet, maybe someone in your family… But without these dollars our community can’t attract new investment to continue the spiral.
When we look at it like that, it becomes very real very quick doesn’t it? But the above is the honest to God truth. Do not get me wrong. Successful people are hard working people that drive the economic wheel for everyone else. Most are good people with good hearts and deserve to do with their windfalls as they wish. And I don’t think for one second they owe the rest of us anything… other than common courtesy. But I’d rather them be from Luling Texas instead of Manhattan New York, or Newport, Rhode Island for the love of heaven… Wouldn’t you? But without us making an attempt to buy things right here in town when we can, we are in a sense hurting a neighbor, or someone we may know… or even worse yet, someone we might actually like! Haha! But nonetheless, a community who is sensitive to this aspect and makes a big effort to trade with local merchants is going to be better off in so many ways.
Now the other side of the coin is to have local businesses who are sensitive to the needs of the community and try to fill those needs. Luling has gaps to fill just like any other small community. There are things you just can’t get here in town and have to go elsewhere. I understand that… Heck, I have to do it just like everyone else. That’s just the way it is in “little town America”. But in this day and age when local merchants are getting more specialized and narrowing their product scopes so they can differentiate themselves from everyone else, it may not always make good business sense in this business climate to try to be all things to all people like merchants did back in the old days. Speaking of the old days, I heard a story a couple months back that merchants would have books of generic checks behind the counter that a customer could request and then they just wrote in an amount, – and their bank would cover it… Isn’t that crazy? Man how things have changed.
If I were to ask 100 people for a top 5 list of things that Luling is missing right now odds are I would get almost 300 different responses. But I’m sure there would be a few that rise to the top. We all have our ideas of what is missing around here, and in a perfect world maybe we could plug some of those holes we have here in Luling. But for those of you who reside in the “real” world and not this other mystical “perfect” world… we got what we got, so to speak. So if you want our local merchants to stay viable and stick around for awhile, we are going to have to help them, plain and simple. Sure it would be nice for someone to step up to the plate with a good new business idea anchored by a great business plan, and then have the finances to execute it. But until that happens, maybe we could all try to recognize where our bread is buttered and make sure we direct money and resources to where it can make the biggest impact… Right here at home.
“We have a strategic plan… it’s called doing things… – Herb Kelleher
– Derek Hall, Luling Main Street Manager