I did a commentary on Haines community radio KHNS last night (and I think it will run this morning) supporting the new Haines Chamber of Commerce shop locally campaign. In case you didn't hear it, here it is, (and feel to share it, or to write and voice your own on the radio, or send a letter to the editor of the Chilkat Valley News about it.) The one thing I didn't have time to say - the commentary guidelines limit them to 3 minutes- is what the Haines Borough Assembly can do. They can create a policy, Think Haines First, to require all borough departments to shop locally as often as possible. That would be the easiest (and biggest) thing the borough could do to promote the local economy. (Also, if you are reading this from out of town, you can do the same thing in your own community. Start by buying your books from the local store instead of an on-line chain.)
I want thank the Haines Chamber of Commerce for their shopping locally campaign, Think Haines First. Haines is unique in many ways, but one thing that resonates with my readers across the country is our independent, locally owned stores. Haines has what most small towns on the road system have lost to chains or the Internet, from family owned hardware and building supplies like ours, the Haisler’s and the Gilbert’s, to grocery stores owned by the Wards, Borciks, and Oleruds. There’s Tomi’s auto parts store, Fred’s jewelry shop and John and Sharon’s gallery. We even have an independent bookstore and independently owned newspaper. I’m sure you can name the people who own the places where you shop and the people who work in them. That is rare, wonderful and worth fiercely holding onto. Preserving this big old wheel of a small town economy that begins with your purchase and ends with the merchant you know contributing to sales and property tax to make our community better, and no doubt fundraisers for everything from sports teams and arts and cultural organizations to civic groups and individual medical expenses-- is easy. It won’t cost you anymore than you already spend. All you need to do is shop mindfully. To Think Haines First before you buy. (Lots of us already do that, which is what makes this place great.) Still, we can all do more. Think of shopping locally the same way you do recycling, eating local food, supporting the farmers market and conserving energy. Local merchants are an essential component of a sustainable community. All you have to do support them is make a conscious effort to try the hometown stores before you shop on-line or outside. Ask them to order it if you don’t see it. Tell them what you’d like to buy more of, or see less of. Share prices with them and ask if they can compete. Make your own little local preference allowance. What is knowing the owner or clerk by name worth to you? Of course Haines doesn’t have everything, and we all buy things we like out of town, but every dollar you do spend locally multiplies at least three-fold throughout the community. What if we all made half the purchases we would anyway, right here? That would be huge. Service organizations and non-profits can Think Haines First, too. Think about it, what’s not quite right about serving locally donated food on Juneau paper plates? Once you begin to Think Haines First, with all of its ramifications, good changes will occur. If we all keep more of our money in town, our community will prosper, and there will be more money to go around for all the things about Haines and the Chilkat Valley that we hold dear.