22 April 2012 - Let’s Help Support the Local Merchant

‘Buy Local’ has become a very popular slogan or theme, particularly in agriculture. We are familiar with the lines, ‘Know Your Farmer, Buy Local’, ‘Buy Local at Your Farmers Market’. School lunch programs are buying locally, and big-city restaurants are telling their customers on their menu that they buy locally. That is all well and good and I encourage it because in many cases it gives city consumers an opportunity to talk directly to the people who produce their food.

But this week I would like to take the ‘Buy Local’ theme into a different area, an area that troubles me, and that is the sharp increase in on-line shopping. I avoid on-line shopping whenever I can, because if and when I must buy on-line, some things happen that I think have a negative impact on me and people around me..

When I shop on line, I have no contact with a person or a human being, and I like that personal contact, to be able to talk to the person selling the product. A computer screen has absolutely no personality! Then, I am taking business away from a local merchant, very often family-owned, perhaps in the town for two or three generations, but I am no longer buying from and supporting that local merchant. I am buying from someone in a far-off land that I don’t know. Finally, and equally important, when I buy on-line, I am not buying from a company that supports my school, my Fire Department, my Police Department, or builds or repairs my streets or roads, because in most cases, state and local taxes are not being paid on on-line purchases.

I know you all want to save money and perhaps you do, buying on-line, but in the long run, do you really? It certainly means there is less tax revenue coming into your state and community to pay for local services and those lost dollars must be made up by you somewhere else. And, in rural towns especially, already hit hard by big-city shopping malls, you are hurting friends who are merchants, trying to make a living.

I know, the upward trend in on-line shopping will continue, but there is something we can do and that is to pressure Congress to pass a law requiring that all on-line purchases be fully taxed at the rate in the buyer’s location and those tax dollars be sent back to the state and community. That would help level the playing field for every merchant on Main Street in Smalltown U.S.A.

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.