Remember this song? Cha cha chains... Cha cha chains... Cha cha chains, chains, chains, chains... Set me freeeeeeee! Sometimes it is hard to get that tune out of my head as I drive around Fayetteville and Cumberland County. Take a look around. What do you see? Chains (chain stores). Everywhere! Surely, we must rank at the top of the list for having more national chain stores per capita than any other North Carolina city.
    What a dubious honor.
    As our national economy patiently awaits for relief, and unemployment rates continue their rise and the threat of higher local property taxes looms on our horizons, it’s time to remind everyone that we should focus more attention, shopping and money on our own community. Shop local! We should support local commerce and do business with local organizations and merchants. We should throw away the foreign catalogs, toll free numbers and cyberspace bargains and search out products and professional services provided by local neighbors in our own backyard. Nothing is more dependable, beneficial and reliable than homegrown products and professional services. We should give them the opportunity to do business because local merchants have already invested in the local economy.
    {mosimage}I know the big chain and box stores do provide some jobs. However, these are usually entry level, part-time and pay minimum wage without health or insurance benefits. Local merchants make a commitment and investment into the  community of their unique talents, time and money. These independents have a passion for being unique and for serving all aspects of the community. It is these people and businesses that make our community very special and give us flair, color and that unique personality. Besides, for every chain and box store business in the county there is a local merchant providing the same product or service while adding value and stability to our local economy. You will find many of those people marketing and promoting their services in our community paper. And why not? The key word here is community. I would list all of the local businesses if I had the space but unfortunately I do not. However, it makes a fun game to match the local merchants to the chains. Afterwards, you have a great list of venues to visit and to recommend to your friends, neighbors and visitors. A few examples of local retailers include: Bullards (for furniture), Quality Sound (for electronics), Bella Villa and Pierros (for pizza), Elle’s for women’s fashion and Ed’s Tire and Pro (for tires).
    Pretty cool, huh? I could go on, and on, and on, but I think you get my point. Chains and box stores contribute little to our local culture. However, local businesses and the people who operate them are the foundation of our community. Support them. In the future we will be doing more to showcase, support and thank these people for their commitment. We hope you will do the same.
    Oh, by the way, don’t look for a copy of this “free”community newspaper in any of the national or chain stores. Their corporate policy doesn’t allow them. Hmmmmmm? Isn’t that the point!
    Thank you for reading.

Contact Bill Bowman at 

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