Small town economics 101 -- a good lession for us to absorb
A dollar spent in Williams will be recycled within the community six to seven times. A dollar spent elsewhere is out of the loop forever. The mathematics is simple: spend a dollar in Williams and the community as a whole ultimately realizes six dollars worth of economic benefits.
Some of the benefits of spending that dollar locally are direct. The dollar comes straight back to your pocket. If you work at Safeway and spend your dollar locally, the employee of that local merchant, contractor or service provider has a dollar to buy groceries. Everyone who works here in town, no matter what they do, helps fund their own paycheck by shopping locally.
Some of the economic benefits of doing business locally are indirect. While the dollar you spend here may not come directly back to your pocket, it’s a dollar which, through the collection of property, sales and payroll taxes, pays to plow and maintain our roads, fund the drilling of our badly needed well and keep our educational system afloat.
If your paycheck comes from tax dollars, you should be particularly aware and exceptionally careful about where you spend that paycheck. A substantial portion of city, state, county, school and federal budgets spent in Williams comes from the taxes collected in Williams. Employees of these institutions particularly need to spend every dime in Williams they possibly can. Again, it’s a very simple economic relationship. If you support local businesses, we stay in business and can continue to collect and pay our taxes, which equals your paycheck.
One of the myths I grew up with was that owning your own business was the American Dream. This myth offered flexible hours, independence, big bucks, good benefits and job security. It can be an American Nightmare. It is low wages, maximum overtime, no meaningful time off, few, if any benefits, no job security and massive debt with an incredible tax burden. Small business in today’s mega-company economy, particularly, is a gut wrenching and viciously competitive enterprise — a 2/47 scramble for the leftovers from the big boys’ tables.
One of the many ways I have experienced this American Nightmare over the past couple of years was through a missed business transaction with a local educator. As the story unfolded, we discovered that he had paid slightly more in Flagstaff for the same merchandise I could’ve gotten for him and had to wait just as long to get it. When I asked him why he would do such a thing, his (honest enough) response was, "We were in Flagstaff picking some things up at Sam’s Club, and I didn’t even think about it."
I’m writing to you this week to ask you to think about it.
Another aspect of this American Nightmare that makes me crazy is the "drive-to-Flagstaff-to-save-a-couple-of-bucks" syndrome. I know lots of local people who will drive to Flagstaff to save $5 on a $250 item. Time is valuable and gasoline is at nearly $2 per gallon. Do the math. It takes at least two hours to get to Flagstaff and back, if only for a one-stop errand. Even at minimum wages, that’s $10.30 worth of your time and, even in a fuel-efficient vehicle, $5 in gas. It cost you $15.30 to save that five bucks. Think about it.
We all have to go to Flagstaff or elsewhere from time to time to do some shopping. You just can’t get everything you need in Williams. I’m a spinster auntie and my niece and nephew’s desires are my mission in life. If it just has to be a Furby or a Barney or whatever, well, that has to go on the Flagstaff list.
For the rest of it, look for ways keep your dollars here, where they count, and where they matter most. The dollar you spend in Flagstaff goes to support the City of Flagstaff, to maintain their roads and pay their teachers. It doesn’t benefit our community or its citizens in the least. Spend all you can locally — be a proud and participating member of your community, be a S.L.O.B. (Support Locally Owned Businesses).
(Terry Warnock is a Williams Grand Canyon Chamber of Com-merce board member and a local business owner.)