[Melyn Johnson is the Main Street Manager in Guymon, Oklahoma. She always amazes me with her innovative projects in tourism and community development. She is also incredibly generous at sharing her knowledge. She wrote this piece for her “On the Bricks” column, in the Guymon Daily Herald. It’s been reprinted in other area papers, and she kindly shared it with us. -Becky]
Just recently in conversation someone told me that they purchased their insurance online. Ouch. That really hurt. Biting my tongue is what hurt. The inclination for me to pull out the soap box, climb atop the box, and deliver a personal opinion was strong. But I maintained self-control. Until now.
Online? Really? The very thought gives me heartburn.
|Guymon’s Centennial Park|
Photo by my friend Program Witch
Saturday my grandson (and many other people’s children and grandchildren) played two games on the Kid’s Inc. league. Not a single one of those teams had an online business on the shirts.
The day before, the Ag Appreciation Day was held, an education opportunity for our farmers and ranchers (including a free meal). There were several local insurance agencies that had paid the money for booths and were present. None of them were online agencies.
On Saturday at the Women in Ag conference, there was Phil and Dianna Brown in attendance. No online companies that I saw.
Let’s let the imagination run to that tree branch falling on your roof and causing damage to your house and car. It’s easy to just call up Phil and Dianna (or Warner and Roger McKinnon or Ken Lane). Good luck on calling that online group. And don’t whine to me when you find out how it’s working for you.
Whew. I think the soap box can be put up now on that subject.
Wait, though. Before putting it up let me address shopping in your hometown.
Every morning when you wake up you want water to flow out of your faucet. You want your toilet to flush by simply pulling down that handle. You want your streets paved, your trash picked up, your street light giving off light so you don’t trip getting to your car. You want a swimming pool where you kids can go all day for just a little bit of money. You want a park with playground equipment for them to play or have their birthday party. You want a golf course so your spouse can be gone for a few hours on the weekend. You decide to do genealogy research and begin using the public library and want research materials. You want. You want. You want.
Don’t act like you don’t know where the money comes from to provide all of that. A minute part of it is the fees, but in our Oklahoma towns it is primarily sales tax dollars.
How would you like to call the City Manager and tell him about a pot hole on your street that you want fixed and him say, “Sorry, our street crew is working on streets in Amarillo today.” Take a deep breath. You brought it on yourself.
When you choose where to buy your groceries think about who provided those buns free at your last Sunday School picnic. Think about who bought ads in your school yearbook so your kids could have an affordable memory of their school years.
When you’re buying a car, try to remember if the place you’re buying your car (or washer or dryer or furniture) bought an animal at the stock show. Or if they donated to your prom party. Or bought the scoreboard at your school. We might even remember who buys the radio time so you can listen to area teams in the playoffs.
|“On the Bricks” in Downtown Guymon|
Photo by my friend Program Witch
Now, don’t be throwing out exceptions as excuses. Sure, it’s a fact you can’t get everything in your hometown. That’s not what we’re talking about. As a point, to heck with any excuses at all. Just thoughts to ponder. You say you save some money … but I wonder just how much of that $3 gasoline it takes to save those dollars. And how many hours it took you to drive to and from that other town.
When there are medical emergencies and traumatic events, who steps up and helps out? Hometown zip codes is my guess.
Who buys the tickets to your school and community plays? Who buys the FFA top hands? Who pays for all that expensive candy and other stuff your golf team is selling as a fund raiser? It’s always people who own or work for people who are in business in or near your hometown.
It’s time to stop going into places just for a handout. Think about where you’re going and why. There is nothing wrong with going to other towns, no. But consider what you expect from local merchants and be economically smart. Sometimes when you’re saving a dollar, you could lose much more.
And while you’re thinking, tell those folks that do provide jobs in your hometown, that do pay the taxes that helps keep water running through your faucet, that do hold up your community events … tell them thank you. I appreciate our community supporters every time you give to our kids, our school, our community events, our civic groups. You’re what keeps us alive.
Time to put the soap box away.
See you on the bricks.
If you would like to reprint this article in your newsletter or local newspaper, Melyn has agreed to allow that. Please send a copy to her at Main Street Guymon, PO Box 1393, Guymon, OK 73942-1393. For online publications, please leave a link here in the comments. Thanks!
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Becky started Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share rural business and community building stories and ideas with other small town business people. She and her husband have a small cattle ranch and are lifelong entrepreneurs. Becky is an international speaker on small business and rural topics.