Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

July 11, 2014

Celebrating the independent retailer

TAHLEQUAH — Most people associate July with Independence Day, but since 2011, July has been designated as Independent Retail Month. The purpose of this time is to recognize the importance of local, small businesses in the community.

According to the Northwest Earth Institute’s Choices for Sustainable Living, a dollar spent at a locally-owned store is usually spent six to 15 times before it leaves the community.

Diana Gordineer, manager of Cook’s Companion, said she enjoys shopping at smaller, unique stores.

“It’s very important to lift the other stores up and to support each other,” said Gordineer. “I shopped in downtown Tahlequah before I started working here. It’s good to know where your money is going.”

Cook’s Companion, owned by Kenny and Dina Lippert, opened in April 2013 and a second store will open in Siloam Springs within the next month. They specialize in kitchen gadgets, cookware, specialty foods and beverages, grilling needs, cleaning products, and more. These are items that may be available at chain or big box stores, but Gordineer believes that people shop at local stores because of the friendly atmosphere and the quality products.

“We like to make people feel at home,” said Gordineer.

“Dina does a lot of research into what customers ask for and we do our best to order special or new items for them and get it here in a timely fashion.”

One point of Independent Retailer Month is “for communities to celebrate the diversity of local independent retail whilst stimulating the economy,” according to www.independentretailermonth.com. Tahlequah has numerous businesses throughout town that specialize in goods unique to the area.

Some stores order from companies that will sell a limited amount of goods to a specific area or to only one store in a town.

“We pride ourselves on having a variety of products other businesses don’t offer,” said Jean Angel Ryals, owner of Everything Under the Sun. “We carry items that big box stores don’t carry and are constantly stocking new inventory.”

Ryals credits smaller stores with the ability to get to know customers and what they like. She said it makes her more sensitive to their needs when she shops at market. Being able to know customers helps in wanting to give back to the community.

She began her store 11 years ago with gifts and consignment items, and because of the amount of repeat business has been able move and expand. Now she offers apparel, jewelry, bath and body items, baby and children’s clothes, kitchen goods, and numerous gifts under $20.

Indiana Main Streets has reported that 6 cents of every dollar spent at a big-box retailer stays in the community; 20 cents at a chain store stays; but 60 cents spent at a small proprietorship stays in the area.

Besides supporting other local retailers by shopping at their stores, many store owners give back to the community. Ryals estimates that she donates about $10,000 in goods and services to local charities and organizations.

“If you give back to others, it comes back full circle,” said Ryals. “It’s important to keep money local.”

sgourd@tahlequahdailypress.com

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