When it comes to tangible goods, I cannot say I do as well focusing on shopping locally, but when it comes to consumables, I try to do better, especially for grocery shopping. When it comes to food options, Corinth is fortunate to have some local shopping venues as an alternative to chain stores.
Why is it better to shop locally? Obviously, when patrons shop at local stores, the money is kept in the community, potentially providing more of an economic stimulus than with national chains. According to an article on Fundera.com, an online resource for small businesses, writer Maddie Shepherd points out that “small businesses generate $68 of local economic return for every $100 spent with them” and that “over $9.3 billion would be directly returned to our economy if every US family spent just $10 a month at a local business.”
Moreover, simply having more options provides more jobs for more people, which also stimulates the local economy. Further, having local options added into the community mix with big box stores creates more competition and more diversity, potentially leading to more product choices and, sometimes, lower prices on items due to competition.
Ever since I can recall, my parents have purchased groceries at one of our local stores: Rogers’ Supermarket. After the pandemic began last March, I returned to shop there for my elderly mother, each time with a list of her desired items in hand, so that she wouldn’t have to go out in public as much and possibly be exposed to someone with the virus. It was refreshing and peaceful. It took me back to my childhood. The store is organized so well, and I hardly ever have any difficulty locating items, unlike some of our chain stores that seem compelled to reorganize the stores regularly.
Another advantage of shopping locally? At this store and at Gardners’ Supermarket, its sister store in town, the customer service is top-notch. Almost every time I go in there, an owner or manager is close by and generally greets me or speaks to me before I leave. I must say that the same level of friendliness isn’t offered at any of the national stores in town. It seems also that customers seem to matter more at these stores. A singular example? It is a regular feature that employees carry your groceries to the car, which is helpful especially for older people and for those who are handicapped, but I think almost everyone appreciates that bonus.
I discovered another somewhat local store over the holiday back in December, and it offers the same sort of customer service and a wonderful product offering. While it isn’t quite as local as the two aforementioned local venues, the half-hour drive it requires to the nearby town of Iuka isn’t that far. Brooks’ Grocery is locally owned and offers numerous in-store items, including freshly made dips, desserts, sandwiches, casseroles, and other offerings. Two items that Mom and I purchased for the Christmas holiday – and which didn’t disappoint – were a couple of small containers of banana pudding and a bag of frozen sausage and cheese balls. They were delicious, and since then, Mom has mentioned returning to purchase more.
On the converse, I must say, around the same time, I visited a local chain supermarket in order to procure some meat for a holiday meal and wasn’t as impressed. I stopped in the day before Christmas Eve in order to purchase a few items and went by the meat department to ask what time they would be closing the following day. An employee of the department told me that 3:00 p.m. would be closing time. On Christmas Eve at 1:30 p.m., I stopped back in to buy some deli-shaved turkey, thinking I had an hour and a half before the deli closed, and was informed that they were cleaning the machines and were no longer serving customers that day. Disgruntled, I asked to see someone in charge, and Cassie, a manager, was apologetic but offered nothing more in response.
Afterward, I drove to a locally-owned store, Gardners’, and received wonderful customer service. The attendant at the meat counter noticed me looking at the possible offerings and without me even inquiring, he came out and asked me how he could be of help. He also made recommendations about the amount of meat I desired. While he was cutting the meat, I browsed some bottles of meat and casserole seasonings that are apparently made and packaged locally for the store – and some of which I may purchase in the future. The meat counter attendant then and brought out the package to me and thanked me for coming to visit their store.
That experience helped cinch my decision to shop locally every time it is possible and I can locate the items for which I am looking. Individually, the customer service, and, locally, the economic benefits, support the case for it.
Daily Corinthian columnist Stacy Jones teaches English at McNairy Central High School and as an adjunct instructor at UT-Martin. She is pursuing an Ed.S. degree in Educational Leadership through Lipscomb University in Nashville. She enjoys downtown Corinth.