Buy Local Means More Than Food

By Lance Evans

A few weeks ago I attended the Nebraska Energy Fair. It was a fantastic event! There were presentations on everything from helpful household tips to conserve energy at home to how to support legislation for renewable energy standards. If you didn't make it to the 2010 Nebraska Energy Fair you should definitely keep an eye out for it in 2011.

One of the interesting people I met was an elderly gentleman from Lyons who had strolled seven or eight blocks down to the fair in search of some assistance. Turns out this gentleman lived in an apartment that did not have air conditioning, and needed someone to drive him to a nearby town to purchase a fan and to pick up vitamins at the local pharmacy.

Never being one to leave someone in a pinch, I offered my services as a chauffeur. Everyone needs a help now and then. What's a seven mile ride between strangers anyway?

We arrived at the pharmacy and he went inside. After a while I decided to go in, it seemed like he had been in there quite a while. I walked in and heard him having words with the attendant. He wanted a certain kind of vitamin that they did not carry, and as he left the store in a huff he half-shouted "Small towns are dying ain't they?" I stayed back for a second to apologize to the attendant for any trouble and she said that although they don't carry the vitamins, they would be happy to order them for him.

This situation is all too common in rural America. People believe that since a store doesn't carry something they want, they need to go someplace else to get it. If we all drive 30 miles to the nearest superstore, it hurts our communities. Buying locally supports your community and keeps money and opportunities in your town.

The vitality of a community hinges in what it can offer its citizens. If a community wants to remain vibrant, it has to have a variety of services and sales to offer both citizens and tourists. By diversifying sales and services a community can cater to more diverse audiences.

Next time you can't find a particular product strike up a conversation with your grocer, pharmacist or any store manager and ask if they can get a hold of it. Just a quick conversation can save you a costly trip.
Stores in small communities pride themselves on customer service. Each time I do business with a local store I get a sense of personal service that one cannot find in a superstore. The willingness to go the extra mile and make the costumer happy are responsibilities rural Americans take very seriously.

Buying local can save you time, money and keep rural America vibrant.