Cyndi's Two Cents

Shop local for greatest return on investment


Our garden tiller broke down at the end of May. We took it to the shop where we purchased it nearly twenty years ago to have it repaired. Unfortunately, between the estimated cost of parts and cost of labor, the man at the hardware store told us it would cost more to repair than to replace. We trust him. We have purchased chain saws, tillers, and string trimmers from him for 2 decades. Unfortunately, the tillers he ordered from the manufacturer months ago have not arrived. He was told he will get them, but he has no idea when.

We prefer to purchase a tiller from that local hardware store that we have supported and where service has always been great. But we have big gardens and need a tiller now. The “mini” garden tiller we have just will not handle the big jobs. So, we have no other choice than to shop around. Our preference is to buy from a locally owned “mom and pop” shop, so we made a few visits and calls. It is, understandably, not the best time to tiller shop, as most people who are going to buy new ones do so in early spring. But we have learned that timing has little to do with our dilemma of not being able to find the tiller we want to buy.

The owner of one local shop explained to Jim (my husband) that a representative from the manufacturer told him that any business selling less than $100,000 worth of garden tillers from that company would not be able to order a single tiller the following year. I do understand business. I understand return on investment, profit and loss, and of course margin. I also understand that as consumers, we have choices.

I know of few big box stores you can call and have someone answer who will recognize your voice or at least your name, know the piece of equipment they sold you, and trouble shoot with you over the phone when you have a problem. We will never again purchase a freezer, refrigerator, stove, washer, or dryer from a big box store. Sure, the sticker price was significantly lower at the megastores, but the cost significantly greater when you consider the lack of support after the initial purchase.

That local hardware store where we have done so much business over the years sponsors local youth and adult sports teams and activities, sponsors local FFA Chapters, and purchases a barrow or a steer or a pen of chickens at the county 4-H fair. The owner, his wife and their long-time employees support other local businesses. I see their ad in the local newspaper, hear their commercial on the local radio station and see them at the grocery store, restaurants, and other businesses.

Our behavior, not our preference, may be the most important economic driver for local business. A local business lives or dies through community support. Without local businesses, our schools and our communities suffer. For us, return on investment is much greater when we shop local.

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