Tahlequah Daily Press


February 11, 2013

Scratching one another’s backs

TAHLEQUAH — According to a recent report with Entrepreneur.com, mom-and-pop stores are experiencing a resurgence, especially in downtown corridors of smaller towns. That’s good news for communities like Tahlequah, where small, family-owned businesses still play key roles.

The so-called “big box” stores took their toll on mom-and-pop shops during the 1980s and ‘90s, often squeezing out businesses that had thrived for decades. But now, though customers still shop at “chain” stores, they say they’re also yearning for a moral personalized shopping experience that only the smaller shops can provide.

It’s not just nostalgia at work. Somewhat paradoxically, the Internet is responsible for much of the revival. Many hometown stores are catering to customers in ways they’d never thought about even five years ago by offering online ordering. And even shops that don’t sell products or services through the Internet can nevertheless maintain a presence there.

Community newspapers are also getting in on the action. Readers continue to trust hometown media outlets more than the state and national varieties, and newspapers are parlaying that into a base of operations for local retailers. Many “main street” shops are finding new markets for themselves with online advertising, which pairs the same reliable news sources with spotlight exposure. And social media is also an important element. It’s the same, but different; virtual advertising and online shopping, as opposed to print advertising and storefront traffic. It’s a symbiotic relationship, because everyone who’s part of the community will benefit.

Small towns offer an at-your-fingertips example of the “string theory” physicists talk about these days. Everything is interconnected, and what affects one part affects the whole. No one business can maintain its strength without help from the others. This is why choosing to shop at home matters, and is almost always the best choice. Not only does it keep your tax dollars at home to be used for local projects, it supports businesses that, in turn, support you as a consumer. Not only is everyone a consumer, but everyone has a stake in the community – either as an employee of a business or institution, or as an owner of one.

In a small town, you might not know everyone, but chances are good you know a lot of the folks who share your geographic corner of the world. Chances are also good you’ll be doing business with those you know, and those who do business with you or your employer. Loyalty does, and should, matter.

A grocery store manager may see a funeral home director shopping frequently in his store. When a member of the store manager’s family needs final care, he’ll likely give this particular funeral director a call. The hamburger drive-in owner is going to get his hair cut by the beautician who drops by for a malt every other week. An insurance salesman shopping for a ring for his wife will take his business to the jeweler whose policy he holds. And newspaper employees and their families will give their allegiance to businesses that advertise within their pages. The same is true even for larger national chains; they may not be locally owned, but they employ local people.

This cycle of consumerism, bolstered by loyalty and a sense of community, makes any small town tick. If people stop wearing necklaces and rings, the jeweler will go out of businesses. If diners decide they prefer fish to hamburgers, the drive-in will cease to be. The same fate could await plumbers, newspapers, radio stations, insurance salesmen, and the man who sells hand-carved wooden chairs, unless the community continues to embrace each vital part of the whole.

Tahlequah’s business community is an eclectic mix. As we’ve said so often, we’re all in this together, and we must rely on one another for our individual success. We owe it to ourselves, and our neighbors, to ensure our businesses thrive into the next decade, and the next – and beyond.

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  • NSU needs to be more candid when its plans go awry

    Many area residents were disappointed to learn this week that the NSU Fitness Center, and its all-important indoor lap pool, won’t open next month, as originally announced.
    This latest delay is no surprise.

    July 28, 2014

  • Higher premiums a just reward for drunken drivers

    Over the past several years, Oklahoma has slipped in many of the polls that count. This week, we learned Tulsa is No. 4 on a list of cities with high rates of fatal DUI accidents. Is anyone really surprised?

    July 25, 2014

  • Maybe it’s time to think about having another BalloonFest

    The 18th annual BalloonFest was the last one held, in 2010. In summer 2011, when the Daily Press staff hadn’t heard anything about the much-anticipated event, we started asking questions.

    July 23, 2014

  • If you see a drunken driver, take the time to call in a report

    If you see something, say something. You’ve heard the warning, and seen it imprinted on placards at airports. In the wake of 9/11, it became a national mantra, mainly aimed at spotting potential terrorist activities. But it’s good advice anytime, and for any reason, even at the local level.

    July 14, 2014

  • City officials should stop squabbling and try to work together

    It’s bad enough that the Chamber of Commerce scandal has given Tahlequah a black eye. But if the bickering among city officials doesn’t stop, the community will have a complete set of shiners for its public face.

    July 11, 2014

  • Only full disclosure will restore trust in the chamber

    Despite pressure from some quarters, neither the Press nor anyone else who values full disclosure will be clamming up until all the facts are known, and those who are responsible meet with justice.

    July 10, 2014

  • Only full disclosure will restore trust in the chamber

    A few board members for the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce are saying they’ve heard nothing but positive things lately – about the chamber itself, and presumably, about themselves.

    July 9, 2014

  • Employer-sponsored insurance may now be a ‘hostage’ situation

    When the fallout settles from the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, many Americans might decide they’re better off with health insurance that doesn’t come from their boss.

    July 7, 2014

  • With confidence in Congress at 7 percent, time for a new slate

    Note to Congress: We don’t like you. Not at all.
    A Gallup poll released Monday, June 30 confirmed what most of us already know: the American public is disgusted with the House and Senate. The survey recorded the lowest level of confidence since Gallup began asking the question in 1991: a whopping 7 percent. That’s not a typographical error; it’s a single digit.

    July 2, 2014

  • New chamber head needs to be free from scandal’s taint

    Every time another layer is peeled off the unfolding saga of the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce embezzlement case, those going through the records hope they might see a light at the end of the tunnel. So far, that hasn’t happened.

    June 30, 2014


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