Instead of saying goodbye, maybe buy
Empty storefronts, lost opportunities, lack of variety – these are all exclamations our newsroom has heard around Emmet County regarding the number of businesses and retail stores our communities once had, compared with what’s available now.
Armstrong Building Supply was an anchor of Armstrong that was at risk of closure. A local couple has stepped up and taken on the risk of reopening it. Josh and Karen Gates of Armstrong said, “We understand the risks of owning a business, but we want to keep this for the community.” The Gateses moved fast, securing a bank loan and asking for help with the down payment.
Local pharmacist Andy Spurgin, after Estherville Drug closed just short of its century mark, keeps his professional presence in Estherville with the new Estherville Pharmacy. Other local residents in the past several years have held ribbon cuttings that represent their willingness to take the plunge, yes, to have a profit-making venture that supports themselves, their families, but also to give the community something it need. Some stores at risk of going out of business have had new owners pivot to make them places local shoppers enjoy.
It’s important both to support the existing businesses of Emmet County and to encourage locally grown service and retail to compliment what we already have.
Local small business entrepreneurs tend to be involved in the community. For instance, they may sponsor local Little League teams, donate to the city’s homeless shelter, join the chamber of commerce, participate in community charity events, or contribute to a local non-profit organization. It’s also not unheard of for successful business owners to guest lecture at the local community college, technical institute, or small business center.
In addition to contributing to the local community’s unique identity and being involved locally, small business owners help to build a sense of community. Small business owners are more likely to build personal relationships with their customers, knowing many of them by name. When was the last time you walked into a large chain store and were greeted by name?
It is important to walk in, or to order curbside if the particular business is not yet open due to COVID-19 precautions. When local residents shop at small businesses within their communities, their tax dollars stay within the local economy, helping to improve their community as a result. Likewise, local small businesses tend to buy locally as well, pumping more of the profits from their economic activity back into the community than their chain store counterparts, sparking economic development.
When local residents shop at small businesses within their communities, their tax dollars stay within the local economy, helping to improve their community as a result. Likewise, local small businesses tend to buy locally as well, pumping more of the profits from their economic activity back into the community than their chain store counterparts, sparking economic development.
Maybe you have that spirit.
It is a risk.
Certainly not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur. But for those who cry out about Emmet County fading away, we wonder if there isn’t a local business some could get together to reopen, renew, and revamp.