Sunday, June 22, 2014

Insight - Remember to always shop local - By Michelle Libby

We have great communities in Windham and Raymond. I hear this on a daily basis. People love living in the Sebago region with access to the big city and shopping galore. 
Another thing I hear about all the time is the buy local movement. “Tell people to shop local, use local services.” This is especially true from local business owners. There are organizations devoted to the idea of use local resources. 

I believe it’s a great concept that has its roots in the early days of our communities. When Windham was founded, there was no Internet, no one drove to Portland to get their groceries and the Maine Mall was just farm land. 

In Windham, residents shopped at Booty’s Store. They didn’t have the choices we have today in Shaw’s, Hannaford or Walmart. 

Buying local also provides a level of customer service that we don’t receive in the big box stores. If an employee doesn’t help you and you get angry, they don’t really care. It reflects badly on the store, not them. (They could lose their job, but that’s different and not directly affecting that customer.) If you decide not to shop there…eh…what’s the big deal? For a local, family-owned business, if the employees, usually the owner, doesn’t help you, word will spread and customers will shop at the big box stores where they know they don’t get service. However, to the local business owner who just lost a customer, that’s huge. 

Is this why all businesses close? Of course not. Financial decisions, life changes and other reasons cause some storefronts to get shuttered. 

What is the reason that there are so many closed businesses in Windham and Raymond, most recently Aubuchon Hardware in Raymond, I have no idea. We mourn for their loss and wonder what we could have done to make them stay. 

Shopping local is one of the keys to local business success. It’s not always the easiest choice or the least expensive, but having that one on one customer service, where the owner of the business knows you and your needs is something that no big box store can compete with.

Michelle Libby

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