Don’t let store go without a fight|Letter to the Editor

Published 3:32 pm Tuesday, May 26, 2009

By Staff
Shannon Brantley
Guest Columnist
Winn-Dixie is closing after 40-plus years. Don’t let them go without a fight. Let the corporate headquarters hear our voices.  Call 1-866-946-6349 and select option 5.
Three people that I’ve talked to said Super Wal-Mart wasn’t a factor in the closing. It’s hard for me to believe that even though sales haven’t fallen as far as expected, a well loved grocery store that’s served Brewton since 1965 would leave town months after the feared competitor opened its new doors is just a coincidence. Intimidation had to play a part in the decision. But even if it wasn’t a factor, it’s still an eye-opener to what could lie ahead for other businesses.
Think back to the good ol’ days when the economy was thriving around here and Brewton had true, true, American small-town pride.  When you needed shoes, you went to the shoe store. When you needed plants for your yard, you went to the nursery. When you went to the movies, you went in town. When you needed your car repaired, you went to the mechanic. When you needed groceries, you went to the grocery store. And you did it all in town. The money stayed in town and the town thrived. 
Last Wednesday, The Brewton Standard and the Chamber of Commerce asked you to spend $20 on the 20th to spur along our local economy. For every dollar spent at Wal-Mart, only about 6 cents stays in town. That means if you spent your $20 there, Brewton benefited with $1.20 going back in the local economy. Some experts say that 80 percent of Walmart suppliers are based in China and 70 percent of all goods on the shelves are made in China. So not only is Brewton not benefiting, America isn’t benefiting. 
Spend local and spread your business around. When businesses have to close, people lose jobs. When people can’t find jobs, they move to where there are jobs. When people leave town, more businesses suffer and close. If this chain of events keeps up, Brewton dries up. I say again, spend local.
One study conducted in 1997 showed that after Wal-Mart came into a community, retail sales of apparel dropped 28 percent on average, hardware sales dropped 20 percent, and sales at specialty stores dropped 17 percent. I’m sure in 12 years those numbers have risen. A 2002 study showed food stores in Mississippi lost 17 percent of their sales by the fifth year after a Super Center came into their community with retail sales falling 9 percent. 
All of this means jobs lost. In times like these, we can’t afford to lose any more jobs than we can help.  Spread your business around.  I’m not saying Wal-Mart doesn’t have its place in our community, especially since we’ve lost shoe stores, Leons, Moores, Western Auto, etc. We need Wal-Mart, but we don’t have to reward the greed by doing all of our shopping and spending in one place.
Don’t let any more of our businesses be lost in the name of “convenient shopping.” Support small businesses and other established merchants. Keep your money local. Only about 6 cents of every dollar spent at Super Wal-Mart stays in town, and not one penny spent out of town stays here. More businesses and jobs will have to close if we, as a community, as Brewton, don’t do something about it.
Shannon Brantley is a Brewton resident.

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