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Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014

Shop local

Posted Wednesday, March 5, 2008, at 5:03 PM

Rather than posting several entries on the "Speak Out" blog, I'm going to put my thoughts here.

I think supporting the local economy is of paramount importance in a community the size of Marshall, for several reasons:

- Buying locally keeps twice as much money of the money spent right here in the community (roughly 65% versus 35%, according to some sources).

- With gas prices as they are, a trip to Sedalia comes in at about $27, and a trip to Columbia twice as much, and Kansas City is yet more. It's not enough to calculate the mileage, by the way. You must factor in the depreciation of your car, tires, and all the rest, and that figure is about 45 cents per mile, per the IRS.

- Using gas, an ever-scarcer resource, just to go shopping does nothing to help the environment.

- Local businesses are often quite willing to order something they carry but don't have in stock right at that moment. I've been surprised more than once that items I could not find at a "big-box" retailer were available, via special order at no additional cost to me, from a locally-owned business.

- If we don't support local businesses, they will be gone. And that helps no one.

- An increase in local shopping could easily result in more local businesses being opened. It may take time, but it can happen.

I'm not suggesting there is never a reason to go out of town to shop - and freely admit I have been as guilty as anyone in doing it - but I don't think it's always necessary, and have increased my efforts not to do so.


Comments
Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

as Earthlings, we are part of a global economy. if we shop local, we are not reaching our greatest potential. We want what is best for the human race, right? The world is a bigger place than the Marshall economy. We need to look at the big picture. If we only focus on Marshall, your great grandchildren will have nowhere to play.

-- Posted by SecretAgentMichaelScarn on Wed, Mar 5, 2008, at 9:18 PM
Kathy Fairchild's response:
You're correct that we are part of a global economy, and since that's true, we can't possibly purchase everything locally. That said, I believe it's still vital to do so whenever that is possible. Too often, we don't look around us and see that it is possible to get what we need without jumping in the car and automatically heading out of town, either actually or virtually. Why, for example, would we elect to buy flowers on the internet when there are three outstanding florists right here in town?

In my lifetime, I've lived in towns both large and small in several states. The dying off of small towns is not only unnecessary, it's tragic, in my view. Shopping locally as much as is possible and practical can keep that from happening.

Like I want to pay $4 for a pack of tube socks when I can get the indonesian version for 50 cents. Wal-mart is the best thing to happen since sliced bread, and NAFTA gets me Chiclets whenever I want. Should we protect the weak and sick of the herd because of some romantic ideal? Small towns dying off is economic Darwinism.

-- Posted by Eff Ess on Wed, Mar 5, 2008, at 10:36 PM
Kathy Fairchild's response:
Glad you brought that up, Eff Ess. History is littered with the "bodies" of formerly-strong industries (textile production being just one). Once a strong industry in the Northeast, textile production gradually moved to states across the South and then out the door to poorer countries like Indonesia. American cars used to be the best and now the latest edition of Consumer Reports shows foreign-made cars occupy that position. I'm afraid I don't have any easy answers - but I'm convinced that supporting local businesses whenever possible and practical is good for small towns, and there's plenty of evidence that's true. Is it really necessary to waste gas and time by going out of town to buy goods already here? I say no.

I don't wear blinder and I like to look at the BIG picture. Myopic views won't feed the world.

-- Posted by SecretAgentMichaelScarn on Thu, Mar 6, 2008, at 10:42 AM
Kathy Fairchild's response:
I think there's room for both views. The big picture isn't all there is.

And while we're on the subject, the corn and bean fields surrounding rural areas, including Marshall, are pretty big contributors to feeding the world, don't you think?

I have to say I am a little confused by these comments. Not knowing exactly where JJ and Secret are located, they obviously read a small town newspaper yet scoff at supporting local businesses. Are you not gainfully employed locally? With that said, failure to support local businesses also hampers our children's local schools and health care. One more thing, where are you going to buy your gasoline to drive to Sedalia or Kansas City?

-- Posted by writerintraining on Fri, Mar 7, 2008, at 1:26 PM
Kathy Fairchild's response:
Excellent point, writer. You're right - failure to support local businesses takes away tax dollars that support schools, and makes it difficult to have health care options close by.

It's been years, but I once lived in a town so small there wasn't a gas station or a doctor. It does complicate your life just a bit to always remember that you can't run the tank down to the "empty mark" so you can get to the nearest gas station 15 miles away. Lack of a doctor added a certain "spice" to life, too.

Thanks for your comments.

One thing that would be beneficial is to revitalize the downtown square. It's a bad sign when retail space is being taken by non-retail business (such as churches and lawyers). We now have 3 flower shops on the square. The property owners of the retail stores on the square need to meet and get organized -- decide upon a goal for the downtown and move toward that goal. Just letting it go willy-nilly is destroying a potential commerce center.

-- Posted by hat full of sky on Sun, Mar 9, 2008, at 9:32 AM
Kathy Fairchild's response:
Very glad to hear from you, BD. I'd love to see a more vital downtown area, building on what's already there. In case you have not seen it, our Friday special edition of Marshall Progress is focused on the square. If voters approve the courthouse renovation project, that could be the jumping-off point for revitalization. A rising tide lifts all boats.

You made some good points BD and I would agree with the idea of getting the downtown merchants should have a meeting of the minds and talents.

One problem I would like to see addressed within the Saline County Commissioners is the large amount of money spent toward the building of the Health Office and Ambulance building. By no means am I saying that these services did not need more accomodating structures but I do not believe they needed the grossly over budgeted buildings they have. Has anyone been in the health office building on Atchison? This building has custom tile work, kitchen area, etc. Our citizens that lack in proper health care coverage need a County Health office. I don't think they needed a project from HGTV. Way too much money spent there.

Moving on to the Ambulance building which is nicely located just west off of our downtown square. This brick and mortar building has 6 bays, how many ambulances do we have? Two story marvelous looking structure that again was not necessary to the extent it has been finished. Our police and fire stations are less than a block away and don't they need some TLC too.

Now the Commissioners are asking the voters to approve another tax rate increase to pay for courthouse renovations, which in the opinion of this writer, should have been down before HGTV hit the Amulance and Health Offices.

Our courthouse is the center of our town. It should bring people to the downtown but it doesn't. Beautiful buildings are going to waste and Morton Building superstructures are going up. Yes, Morton Buildings, not Wick Buildings or someother local provider.

Our very own new Community Center I believe used out-of-town labor on nearly all of the HVAC, electrical, labor, etc. Sort of goes back to earlier comments about shopping local. What kind of example is the City and County giving when they don't use their own local labor to construct their progress?

-- Posted by writerintraining on Sun, Mar 9, 2008, at 1:25 PM
Kathy Fairchild's response:
Writer - just to clarify a couple of points. The Ambulance building was built from funds the Ambulance District had the foresight to set aside over a period of many years. In that sense, no additional tax money was needed to pay for it. The money the ambulance district gets from taxpayers is actually less than is needed to keep them operating. The rest comes from fees collected from users of the service. There are 12 full-time employees on the three ambulance crews who work 48-hour shifts, so it's essential for them to have a place to sleep. The new building accommodates that far better than the old one. The old building did not have space for the larger ambulances now used, requiring that they be pulled into the street to be serviced. The new building addresses that situation, too.

Insofar as the Health Department building is concerned, they have needed a "home" for many years, and in the period before the new building opened, had moved two or three times. Their last location was nowhere near large enough and was very energy-expensive.

Both of the buildings were built by Morton Builders, which also builds "Morton buildings," but both the ambulance and health department buildings are not in the category of "disposable" buildings. They are solidly-built structures designed to last well into the future. Some local subcontractors were used in both projects, and in the health building, all of the flooring came from a local business, Ehrhardt Flooring. The building design consultant was Darla Arni, a Slater resident with a lot of experience in that area. Desks and a good part of the cabinetry came from Missouri's own prison-based manufacturer. Not quite "local," but at least not out of state.

I don't have specific information about the Community Center, so I can't address that issue.

I, too, would like to see the courthouse renovation sales tax approved and work started as soon as possible to save this landmark building. I believe it could be the beginning of a revival of the downtown square and an overall improvement for both the City of Marshall and Saline County.

Thank you Kathy for clarifying so many different aspects for myself and hopefully other readers that have voiced opinions regarding the building of the new county structures. I certainly stand corrected.

Having not any personal experience with the Ambulance District I was unaware that essentially this is a self-funded operation. Sounds like the Ambulance District have run a smooth sailing ship and they should be rewarded for their efforts. I would certainly agree the housing of staff on a 48-hour rotation shift and servicing vehicles should be a top priority.

My prior comments should have been more directly related to the quality and excessive "cosmetic" features that both structures seem to contain.

Again, constructing buildings is not my expertise but I had my current home built and I have worked in the construction business for 22 years. There are cheaper ways to achieve a "high end" modern look without going overboard. Again, I am not suggesting that materials or decisions concerning either building should be short-term or "disposable."

Your comment about both buildings was they "are not in the category of "disposable" buildings. They are solidly-built structures designed to last well into the future." Simply, I was pointing out that we have two local area contractors that build these type of structures on a daily basis, one of which I mentioned, Wick Buildings, and the other Thompson Construction. I am sure there are others but these are the two firms I am familiar. Morton Builders is from Chillicothe, all of their HVAC, electrical, and plumbing contractors came from Chillicothe. You mentioned the floor covering was purchased local and I know site preparation was also done with the aid of local labor. Bravo, all total of the millions spent probably couple hundred grand went local.

As consumers, common sense should prevail on purchases. It makes little sense to drive to Sedalia to shop at Wal-mart when there is one in Marshall.

Basically, same prices and same merchandise.

Now let us talk big-ticket items such as cars or lawn care equipment. We quickly run out of choices unless we want to buy "disposable" type lawn equipment at Wal-mart or the Cadillac brand with the green paint. If you prefer an import vehicle over American, your choices dwindle in Marshall as well. Dealerships offer various promotions, inventory levels etc. and shopping out of town circles back around to common sense.

Bottom line, my business depends upon your business and your business depends upon mine. Without the support of each other, neither will remain prosperous.

Not in the so distant past, we use to have a slogan "Shop Marshall." There are things we just cannot get in Marshall but when we can, we should.

-- Posted by writerintraining on Sun, Mar 9, 2008, at 8:01 PM

Another thing I would like to see is a decent bookstore. I know they are hard to keep in business but for goodness sake, you can't buy a nice children's book as a birthday present anymore!

Why doesn't someone open a coffee place as a combo with a bookstore?

-- Posted by hat full of sky on Sun, Mar 9, 2008, at 10:23 PM
Kathy Fairchild's response:
BD - as an avid reader myself, with one grandchild and another on the way, I think a bookstore would be a great addition to the downtown area (or elsewhere), especially combined with a coffeehouse.

What else would you like to see in the way of retail development in Marshall? People I've spoken to on this subject have suggested a bakery and a bridal shop. Another suggestion I hear often is for a downtown restaurant that's open at night.

I'd like to encourage others to post suggestions for retail venues.

I would like to see some restaurants of some variety (rather than 4 Chinese restaurants). A good bakery would be nice. For the square, we definitely need a balance of business, retail, and restaurants.

Other ideas (shooting for the moon):

a candy store

a bike shop

a music shop (to buy CDs)

a shoe store

-- Posted by hat full of sky on Mon, Mar 10, 2008, at 7:42 PM
Kathy Fairchild's response:
Those are all great ideas! How do you feel about getting a farmer's market started in the downtown area?

Kathy,

I whole-heartedly support a Farmer's Market downtown. I know a market is supported on the old Wal-mart parking lot but why not bring it to the downtown. Not much can beat the fresh produce grown locally in the summertime.

Recently I visited The Pear Tree in Bevier and thought, what a wonderful restaurant to have downtown in a small town. Brunswick has also opened The Railyard Steak house, which is good as well. We certainly need a good downtown restaurant especially one that is open Sunday's after church.

BD, I am with you. A coffe shop/book store and bakery sounds like a winner to me. How do we get the funding? Who is going to cook?:)

-- Posted by writerintraining on Tue, Mar 11, 2008, at 10:51 AM
KATHY FAIRCHILD's response:
A good place to get information about how to start a business is the Small Business Administration, where there is a wealth of information on how to set one up and get help with funding. One issue in particular plagues small businesses and contributes to their early failure - the lack of a sound business plan at the beginning. SBA's tools make that easier.

I think it's great that two quite small towns (Bevier's population is less than 750 and Brunswick's is less than 1,000) can support top-notch restaurants in their downtowns. Washington, with a population of only a little more than Marshall's, has a very successful farmer's market going. If those towns can do it, Marshall can, too.

I would like to see more restaurants, Clothing stores, everything a dollar store, Chuck e Cheese for the kids.

-- Posted by momx2 on Wed, Mar 12, 2008, at 8:51 AM
KATHY FAIRCHILD's response:
Thanks for posting - those are all good suggestions.

There was a column in your paper today about a Small Business Center established at the Marshall Public Library. That might be a good place to start too.

-- Posted by hat full of sky on Wed, Mar 12, 2008, at 5:54 PM
KATHY FAIRCHILD's response:
I'm sure it would be, yes. A good book to read on the subject of small town development is "Boomtown, U.S.A," by John M. Schultz. The author will in town next month at the Mayor's Poverty Summit. He will be speaking on April 4 at Martin Community Center.

Excellent, another author coming to town to speak. I was able to visit with W.L. Ripley when he came to MVC. Interesting evening and good attendance. I was glad to see so much interest in his work and speech.

Sounds like "Boomtown, U.S.A." would be a good book to start with. Kathy, do you know about the Mayor's Poverty Summit, will this event be by invitation only or how will it be handled? I'm interested in attending.

-- Posted by writerintraining on Thu, Mar 13, 2008, at 11:09 AM
KATHY FAIRCHILD's response:
Yes, I sure do know about it - Schultz will be one of the keynote speakers. The two-day Summit is open to the public, and the fee is $50, which covers both days, refreshments and materials. Call MVCAA at 886-7476 to register. Community Development Director Melanie Corporan told me copies of the book will be available at the summit. I didn't see it in the online catalog from the Marshall Public Library, but they might be able to get it with an interlibrary loan. It's also available at Amazon books.

Thanks Kathy for the information. What a wonderful thing to bring to Marshall and the new Civic Center. I am assuming we will have visiting city managers attending this? Sounds like the Civic Center has gotten off to a great start.

-- Posted by writerintraining on Thu, Mar 13, 2008, at 1:31 PM
KATHY FAIRCHILD's response:
There should be a good number of city managers and/or mayors attending. MVCAA covers a 7-county area and all of them in those counties have been invited to attend, along with other community leaders. It's a great way to show off the new center. And, as I mentioned earlier, private citizens are also invited to attend. The fee is $50, but that includes both days and all refreshments, plus the materials, and it's hard to imagine a better way to spend that money if you're interested in helping solve the problem.

Before we will every have have a robust downtown economic revival we are going to have to elect representative who are forward looking. Not just the next month or next year but 10 and 20 years down the road. Marshall needs to be known as a planned - progressive - community. Marshall need to apply more efforts to enforce the existing ordinances for shops on the Marshall Square and consider updating such ordinances that existed in the 50's. The city can buy property for the benefit of a major employer and hold it in trust; and at the same time watch one of the cities land marks local commercial institutions deteriorate to the point of looking like a business center owned by a slum lord.

Also when we buy local from local business the revenue generated by the retail merchant stays in the local economy. When we purchase products from a chain store like WalMart, all the money is wire transferred out of the local economy. So much for shopping local.

-- Posted by John Q. on Wed, Mar 26, 2008, at 11:50 AM


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Kathy Fairchild received a Bachelor of Arts degree in business administration in 1986 from Marycrest College, Davenport, Iowa. She is also a 2003 graduate of the paralegal program at New York University. She moved to Marshall in 2006, following a career of more than 30 years with the world's largest farm equipment manufacturer. She is an Air Force brat and grandmother of four.
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